Teachers and Administrators, students and parents alike have resoundingly embraced the Learning Standards-addressing Outdoor Education (OE) program that is based on best practices in Constructivist learning theory. Our excellent facilities, unique natural features, and highly qualified instructors and staff provide the perfect setting for quality outdoor and environmental education programs for school groups.
Our first Executive Director of OE was also a professor at Northern Illinois University in their teacher program when our program was founded in the 1970s. Jessie Hafer, our current leader, is an experienced, certified teacher with a Middle School endorsement. She collaborates with each school group to ensure all student needs are met. A dissertation, completed through Loyola University Chicago, studied our program and found several benefits, and the study is now in the Library of Congress.
White Pines Ranch provides outstanding outdoor education experiences on our 200-acre natural expanse. Many physical features are especially suited for activities that support and enhance your school’s curriculum:
Limestone quarry with plenty of Ordovicial fossils
Sandstone canyon complete with White Pine trees (the southern most, naturally occurring stand. Glaciers added to our site!), primitive plants and natural springs.
A variety of streams, ponds and springs
Fields of natural vegetation and crops
Prairie plants and deciduous and coniferous forests
Trails for hiking, horseback riding and sensory awareness hikes
By collaborating with teachers and administrators, we are able to refine your school’s OE instructional program to best support your curriculum. Standards-based units are found in:
Geology: A varied terrain includes a canyon, sedimentary deposits of limestone and sandrock, ox-bows, stream erosion and deposition, natural springs and various land formations
Rocks and Minerals are experienced in multiple ways
Aquatic Study: Physical and biological properties of the ponds and streams are explored and studied
Botany and Zoology: Terrestrial and aquatic plants and animals are abundant
Primary and Secondary Succession: Lichens, moss, liverworts and ferns are abundant in the canyon
Forest and Field Ecology: Deciduous and coniferous forests surround the Ranch
Agriculture: The ranch has a working farm that helps raise the farm-to-table process, addressing nutrition and career awareness
Interdisciplinary activities include measuring, problem solving, and other numeracy learning objectives
A nearby cemetary allows for study of the history and people of the area
Orienteering/Compass Activities: Learn to operate a compass and guide yourself through our orienteering courses
Hiking provides an activity for life-long fitness
Natural materials are plentiful for arts and crafts
Evening sing-a-longs support musical connections
The rural setting inspires writing journals, stories, and poems. The awe-inspiring experience also sparks students' desire to read about all of the various aspects of being on a western dude ranch!
Initiative Tasks, family-style eating, a host of hands-on activities, and even dorm living, support students' development of personal, group, and leadership attributes
Teachers and/or administrators plan your school’s one to four night programs during the Fall, Winter or Spring seasons. Contact us and we will help you with all aspects of planning a wonderful experience for you and your students. The fee includes three meals and an evening snack per 24-hour period, horseback riding, use of facilities and equipment, and in-service training for participating teachers. Several program options are available to meet the various needs, cost constraints, and interests of your school.