Conservation & Outdoor Education – Focusing on science, social studies, forestry and living history, the Cradle of Forestry correlates programs to N.C. state curriculum standards and U.S. Forest Service guidelines. Each program provides a hands-on activity that is educational and takes place in an outdoor setting. Trained educators will help you “Sow Seeds of Stewardship” while accomplishing your teaching goals. See here for program correlations. 

Reservations are required for all field trips. If you have students with special needs, please let us know in advance. Please call Stephanie Bradley at (828) 877-3130, or email to reserve your space.

Option 1 – Our trained educators lead our programs
•$5.00 (use fee + program fee) per student
•Free for all accompanying teachers and chaperones

Option 2 – Self-guided visit
•$3 for youth ages 4 to 12
•$6.00 for 13 years old and older
•$6.00 use fee per chaperone

Day of Payment is preferred, however invoicing is available. Checks should be made out to: CFAIA

Site Resources

  • First in Forestry Film (28 minutes) – Set in the late 1800’s, this movie reveals the significance of the site while introducing America’s forestry pioneers and their work. Viewing the video before your visit saves time and is a great resource. It can be borrowed to be used in the classroom.
  • Exhibit Hall Exploration (approximately 30 minutes) – Explore our hands-on educational Exhibit Hall in the Forest Discovery Center using age appropriate activities that supplement our programs and your curriculum. Conservation history, habitats, careers, and forest products are just some topics ready for discovery. A simulated fire-fighting helicopter ride and scavenger hunt are highlights for some students.
  • Interpretive Trails (1 hour each) – Walk on two 1-mile paved interpretive trails. The Biltmore Campus Trail passes seven historical buildings, including a schoolhouse, commissary, and student quarters. The Forest Festival Trail explores Dr. Schenck’s forestry experiments, a portable saw mill, and a logging locomotive that students can climb aboard. The trails stimulate discussions about ways of living, habitat, how plants grow, succession, energy cycling, forestry concepts, and issues while you enjoy the forest at your fingertips.

Field Trip Experiences

The Cradle of Forestry’s thematic program design includes activities that reinforce each other. You can customize your field trip by combining one of the activities appearing below with a guided trail walk and exhibit hall activity. We adapt program format according to your time restraints, group size, and weather. Programs are correlated to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study for science and/or social studies. All teach basic process skills like observing, classifying, and communicating, and help students develop a positive attitude toward science and conservation.

  • Who Eats Who Where? (Grades K-2) – Students use their senses to explore and contrast two habitats (Zoom in on Nature), play a game about predator-and-prey relationships and energy flow in a food chain (Food For Who?), and participate in an interactive puppet show exploring a tree’s life cycle and niche in a forest (Sally Snag, The Animal Inn). The scavenger hunt and Build a Forest Flannel Board are other optional activities on this topic, especially in inclement weather.
  • Migration: Risky Business (Grades 4-6 )– Migratory birds face awesome challenges as they travel to suitable habitat in the spring and fall. Students roll dice and follow a “migration route” as neo-tropical migratory birds, and encounter perils and advantages real birds face along the way. Who will survive? It’s up to chance!
  • Arthropod Hunt/Aquatic Ecology (Grades 2-6) – Teams dig into stumps and peek into leaf piles to find arthropods and infer the roles these animals play in forest ecosystems. Students also investigate an aquatic ecosystem during a Pond Exploration. This program addresses concepts of body structure, adaptations, metamorphosis, decomposition, and issues of forest health and water quality.
  • Getting To Know Trees (Grades 4-6) – Students use observation and a simple key to learn tree identification skills (Keying Out Trees). By Reading the Rings they find out the story of a tree’s life and play a game to predict what growth ring patterns would look like under certain conditions (Every Tree for Itself). Goods from the Woods explores the everyday items that surprisingly come from trees. Trees truly are tremendous!
  • Plant Discovery (Grades K-8) – Investigate a diverse forest while observing, identifying, comparing, and personalizing plants. Build an understanding of growth, adaptations, and interdependence with wildlife and people. This versatile program can include activities on topics of your choice: plant identification (What’s in a Name?), pollination (Bud Buddies), invasive exotic species (Green Invaders), soil erosion (Just Passing Through), and plant uses in the past and present (Plant Lore). For grades 5 and over, the program includes a plant mapping activity in our exhibit hall (Plant Safari).
  • Tools, Toys, and Resources to Survive the 1800’s (Grades K-8) – A hands-on experience to capture students’ imaginations and challenge their thinking skills while they compare past technology and lifestyles with today’s. Younger students also discover toys and play from the past. Students in grades 6-8 explore a “Tree Trail” to meet the tree species used for tools, cabins, and other wood products.
  • Living with the Forest (Grade 3) – In small groups among the Cradle’s historic buildings, children role-play doing chores in an early 1900’s mountain community. They experience how family and community members depended on each other and our forest resources and make comparisons to life today. To make the most of this popular social studies curriculum, a teacher’s guide with pre-visit and post-visit activities integrating music and language arts and a workshop at your school are available. Please ask about these when you make your reservation.
  • Gumshoes in the Pink Beds (Grade 4) – Students form detective teams and poke around historic buildings of the old Biltmore Forest School campus. By decoding clues and observing artifacts, they draw conclusions about life in the early 1900’s Pink Beds community and how people used, modified, and adapted to the forest. They also estimate what significant events occurred in this historic North Carolina valley.
  • Bogs, Bugs, and Beavers (Grades 5 & up) – Examine wetland ecosystems of the Pink Beds valley with a guided hike to areas of past beaver activity. While discussing positive and negative consequences of change, we’ll explore and learn about aquatic life, mountain bogs, forest succession, food webs, and landscape influences. Bring shoes that can get wet and muddy.
  • Habitats & Microclimates (Grades 5, 6, and 8) – Students explore a forest plot and look to see how abiotic (nonliving) factors such as soil temperature, weather, sunlight all affect biotic (living) components of a forest habitat.
  • Cruisin’ the Woods (High School) – Students learn about multiple use forestry and wood products while applying tree identification, measurement, and math skills to inventory a forest plot. They complete calculations and compile data in a post-visit activity provided. Sturdy shoes required. Expect uneven, sloped ground.
  • Watershed Wanderings (High School & Up) – Students imagine a raindrop’s path in this fair-weather field exercise, which focuses on a forested watershed. Following transects, teams inventory vegetation composition and density and record observations of light, moisture, and forest structure. From this data they draw conclusions and form research questions. You can easily repeat this activity to compare this headwaters area to a lower urban setting in your school’s community. Sturdy shoes required. Expect uneven, sloped ground.
  • Pre-school to K Discovery Walks – Using senses we’ll explore the Cradle’s backyard habitat garden and along the trails. Matching colors and working with magnifying glasses, interspersed with quiet moments, helps build vocabulary and listening skills with the natural world as the focus.
  • Programs for Adult Groups – Many of the programs described above can be adapted for adult groups. In addition to these outdoor-oriented experiences, the following presentations can be scheduled for groups in the Forest Discovery Center:
    • Our Forest Heritage: An educational guided tour of our Biltmore Campus Trail (1 mile paved loop trail) exploring historic buildings that give us a glimpse into the life of those pioneering sustainable forest management and education in Pisgah National Forest.