Conservation education is our legacy and mission.


Photo by TJS Creative

A Historical Perspective

The Cradle of Forestry in America continues a legacy of conservation education. These efforts were initiated by forester and teacher, Dr. Carl Alwin Schenck in 1898. While acting as chief forester for George W. Vanderbilt’s 125,000-acre Biltmore Estate, Dr. Schenck founded America’s first forestry school, the Biltmore Forest School. Acreage that is now the Cradle of Forestry in America  was the school’s summer campus and vast outdoor classroom until 1909.  The Biltmore Forest School’s daily excursions into Dr. Schenck’s “practical classroom” engaged students in hands-on learning experiences in the forest.

A Legacy for Today

Dr. Schenck grounded over 365 students in a conservation ethic. Our goal is to help you do the same for your students during fields trips while also supporting your teaching goals. Make the Cradle of Forestry your outdoor education classroom!

Today’s Biltmore Forest School is a Destination for Field Trips

  • Serves grades K-12, college students and adult groups.
  • Supports public, private and homeschool education
  • Captures the imagination.
  • Offers conservation education programs that correlate with North Carolina and South Carolina Science and Social Studies standards.
  • Consists of programs developed using the North American Association for Environmental Education’s Nonformal Environmental Education Programs: Guidelines for Excellence and National Association for Interpretation guidelines.

Excursions include:

  • Programs with engaging activities in a forest setting.
  • Opportunities for teachers to observe their students’ skills in teamwork, language arts, and math.
  • A format adapted to your time restraints, group size, and weather.
  • Two or three rotated programs, depending on the number of participants.

The Cradle of Forestry’s “classroom” includes:

  • A forest around three paved, wheelchair accessible hiking trails- a living laboratory and hands-on exhibit.
  • Historic Biltmore Forest School buildings that represent traditional, forest-based Blue Ridge mountain culture with lessons for today.
  • An antique portable sawmill, 1914 narrow gauge locomotive, log loader and road graders that illustrate the simple and practical technology of yesteryear for comparisons today.
  • The indoor Forests for Life exhibit hall that supplements programs and enhances flexibility in inclement weather.
  • Opportunities for service learning and citizen science.