Education and Community Outreach

Image: Class looking at wildlife at the field station


The James H. Barrow Biological Field Station at Hiram College is prepared to provide more than 50 different science enrichment programs for public, private, or homeschool groups in grades K-12. These education and outreach programs are correlated with the Ohio Learning Standards and Model Curriculum for Science for each grade level. We can also serve as a supplemental resource for existing lessons by bringing resources to your classroom, or by providing immersive, experiential education opportunities for students in our old-growth forest, wetlands, or headwater stream of the Mahoning River watershed.

Our educational programs are designed to provide hands-on learning experiences through activities, games, observations, and field studies. Most classes can be modified and presented either at your facility or at James H. Barrow Biological Field Station. Each program lasts approximately 60 minutes unless specific circumstances require adjustments to the schedule. School programs are available for groups such as scouts, churches, 4–H, libraries, and other community organizations serving school-aged children.

  • Indicates a program that can only be offered at the James H. Barrow Biological Field Station
  • Indicates that we can bring this program to your school or facility.
  • Indicates a program that features an animal ambassador or can be tailored to include an animal ambassador

In this lesson, students will have the opportunity to engage with various examples of native plant and animal species. The Nature Center’s displays include live animal exhibits, geology and archaeology specimens, animal ambassador interactions based on availability, and mounts of native birds and mammals. Interactive exhibits include our birding station, microscopes, and our Touch & Learn table. A guided walk through the Botanical Garden features labeled plant species, and numerous trails to various habitats including old growth Beech-Maple Forest, streams, an experimental research grassland, and Kennedy Pond.

This program focuses on the shape and color of specific birds, marks used for identification in the field, bird songs, habitat and diet, and bird anatomy. Additionally, it will cover the concepts of flight including lift, force, and aerodynamics. Weather permitting, students will also learn techniques to attract birds for better viewing in the field.

This class focuses on the differences between reptiles and amphibians, their life histories, habitats, and anatomy. Students will have the opportunity to see and touch examples of live animals to gain a greater understanding of these creatures and their needs, and to dispel common misconceptions. Shorter programs on specific reptile & amphibian groups are available.

Students will discover the diverse aquatic fauna of Silver Creek. We will examine samples of the streambed for live insects, discuss adaptations for aquatic life, and see how the composition of the stream community can indicate water quality. Older students may perform chemical analyses of the water such as pH and dissolved oxygen.

Looking for a fun way to get your students outside and learning about nature? Our nature games allow students to play a variety of fun games that highlight various ecological concepts such as food chains, predator and prey, habitat, biodiversity, and animal behavior. This class can be repeated with different games and topics or paired with one of our other class offerings for a fun-filled and engaging day.

Students will explore forest layers such as the soil, shrub, and canopy, and the living organisms found in each. Students will participate in a variety of activities as they are led on an interpretive forest walk. Topics include plant and animal species diversity, adaptations and niche, forest microhabitats, soils, decomposition and nutrient cycling, forest succession, and conservation.

This class focuses on understanding the differences between insects and other invertebrate groups, types of insects, anatomy, and life cycles. Students will be given the opportunity to venture outside and collect examples of live insects from habitats using various field techniques taught during the course.

Perfect for an introduction to mammals for younger students, or a more in-depth lesson for a high school biology class! Students will learn what makes something a mammal, examples of different types of mammal groups, and examples of mammal tracks. Students will have the opportunity to examine skins and skulls of various mammal species. Concepts also include predator and prey adaptations and diet. Shorter programs on specific mammal groups are also available upon request.

This class encourages creativity, discovery, and appreciation for nature as students learn how to observe plants and animals. While exploring nature, they may sketch interesting specimens they find, describe behaviors of animals, make leaf or bark rubbings, or make a “sound map.” Older students will learn methods of collecting data and are encouraged to write short stories or poems during the course. Our animal ambassadors might also make an appearance during this class to help students engage and understand how to observe different animals!

This class encourages creativity, discovery, and appreciation for nature as students learn how to observe plants and animals. While exploring nature, they may sketch interesting specimens they find, describe behaviors of animals, make leaf or bark rubbings, or make a “sound map.” Older students will learn methods of collecting data and are encouraged to write short stories or poems during the course. Our animal ambassadors might also make an appearance during this class to help students engage and understand how to observe different animals!

Activity topics in this engaging class will allow students to explore the complexity of plants, types of leaves, trees, tree growth, transpiration, and the photosynthesis process. We may also discuss pollination including the parts of flowers, seeds, and fruit. Students will be given an opportunity to locate and identify various tree species in our old-growth forest, or on your facility grounds.

Students will be given a brief nature lesson, based around a children’s storybook, using items from the Field Station’s Nature Center to illustrate concepts. This class can be offered repeatedly with different topics and stories. Examples of topics discussed include beavers, bears, frogs, trees, turtles, insects, snakes, owls, bats, camouflage, snails, and salamander.

Students will learn what a watershed is and how its condition affects the water downstream. Activities demonstrate topics such as watershed delineation and function, the components of the water cycle, and both point and non-point sources of water pollution.

Students will learn how animal populations are influenced by the availability of habitat resources. Activities teach concepts such as habitat components and wildlife needs, population growth, the role of predators, interdependency and connectedness, carrying capacity, limiting factors, conservation, and endangered species.

Never Eat Soggy Waffles! In this course, we will introduce students to the interworking’s and uses of a cardinal compass. Students will learn concepts such as direction and bearing, degrees in a circle and angles, and how to use a compass and interpret maps to find their way. This class is often used as a supplement to lessons in geography and math.

Interpretive hikes can take place along many of our trails at the Field Station throughout the year. Students will explore and engage with forested habitats and learn about regional plants and animals, ecology, and geological features. For this class it is encouraged that all involved bring a sack lunch, water, rain gear, and weather appropriate shoes. Students should be in good physical condition and prepared for long day in the great outdoors.

The Field Station’s Headwater Streams and adjacent habitats contain a great diversity of salamanders. Students will learn to identify species, capture and measure salamander, and collect and graph data to examine how species use the stream habitat in different ways. Topics include adaptations, habitat, communities, niche, competition, and predation. Bring shoes appropriate for wading.

This class features a series of fun team challenges that illustrate the importance of using effective social skills in small group interactions. Concepts include communication and active listening, goal setting, teamwork, leadership, cooperation, group decision making, and problem solving. This course is often team-taught with other courses we offer.

Students will be introduced to the biological classification system, the dichotomous keys to separate biological groups, and how to identify specimens based on their characteristics. Activities may include creating a key to classmates or insects, tree identification, or a reptile and amphibian or bird “hide & seek” using keys to navigate the Field Station’s trails.

Looking for a fun way to engage your students in the understanding of geometry skills such as perimeter, diameter, and more? Join us for a day where students can test their math skills while studying trees, leaf litter, the tree canopy, and logs to evaluate the quality of the habitat for wildlife. Alternate versions give students opportunities to survey levels of infestation by Beech Leaf Disease or to quantify lichen growth on trees as indicators of air quality.

Activities in this course will simulate the effects of natural selection and mutation as agents of genetic change in populations over time. Additional concepts discussed will include alleles, genotypes, phenotypes, adaptation, speciation, and evolution. This class is a great supplement to existing lessons!

This workshop is specifically designed for students developing independent field research projects. Participants will review the steps of the scientific method and will work together to plan the protocols for a hypothetical research project involving amphibians like salamander & frogs. Time will be spent in the field collecting data, followed by a detailed discussion of the pitfalls and potential sources of error when designing similar field experiments.

Children of ages pre-K to 2nd grade are recommended to participate in our wide range of Nature Games and “Storybook Science” programs. These are shorter, simpler lessons focusing on a single topic, accompanied by a reading of a related children’s storybook. Programs are also available for older grade levels without the story.

Topics can include:

  • Animal Signs
  • Birds
  • Camouflage
  • Canines (fox, coyote, etc.)
  • Cats (bobcat, cougar, etc.)
  • Fall Leaf Colors/Evergreens
  • Frogs & Toads
  • Fungi
  • Habitats/Ecosystems
  • Insects
  • Leaves/Tree Identification
  • Moles & Shrews
  • Opossums
  • Owls
  • Predators & Prey/Food Chains
  • Rabbits
  • Salamanders
  • Scary Animals
  • Seeds & Flowers
  • Snails & Slugs
  • Snakes
  • Squirrels/Groundhogs
  • Tree Life Cycles/Forests
  • Turtles

Other Programming

Other Groups 

Special request programs can be accommodated. Lectures and workshops for adults are available on a variety of topics, as are teacher and informal educator workshops for science CEUs or non-degree oriented graduate credit.

Stem Education

STEM (Science, Technology Engineering & Math) education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning that couples rigorous academic concepts with real-world experiences. Informal science education offered by museums and nature centers extends student learning beyond the classroom through hands-on activities that let students discover and practice STEM concepts. Such programs inspire and educate youth and adults and raise student interest, confidence, achievement, and desire for science careers. The Field Station’s STEM program integrates multiple subject areas and correlate to Ohio’s Standards for Science.

Contact Us

Interested in becoming a volunteer or a member of the Friends of the Field Station? Contact us!