group of kids in woods
Learn about various OE Opportunities

Outdoor Education

Teachers, administrators, students, and parents alike have been attending Outdoor Education (OE) at White Pines Ranch since 1976!  The learning standards met while participating in OE compliment classroom lessons and enhance curriculum.  WPR uses best practices with the Constructivist Learning Theory and encourages students to be lifelong learners.

Our excellent facilities, unique natural features, and highly qualified instructors provide the perfect setting for schools to develop a quality outdoor education program.  Our 200-acre property is ideal for students to explore and learn, with environmental features such as:

  • Limestone quarry with plenty of Ordovician fossils
  • Sandstone canyon complete with white pine trees (the southern-most, naturally occurring stand deposited by glaciers!), 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
  • Abundant wildlife
  • Domestic animals
  • Trails for hiking, horseback riding, and sensory awareness hikes

Outdoor education is the teaching of concepts, skills, and attitudes that can best be taught in the natural setting.  This context for instruction uses the resources beyond the classroom as a stimulus for learning and as a way of combing practical experiences with theoretical knowledge.  Through experiential education, students develop a better understanding of the interrelationships of all living and non-living things and the functioning of the complex world in which they live.  Standard-based lessons designed around that concept are found in the following:


  • 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

Social Studies:

  • A nearby cemetery allows for the study of the history and people of the area

Physical Fitness:

  • 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

Language Arts:

  • The rural setting inspires writing journals, stories, and poems. The awe-inspiring experience also sparks students’ desire to read about the various aspects of being on a western dude ranch!

Social-Emotional Learning:

  • Initiative Tasks, family-style eating, a host of hands-on activities, and even dorm living support students’ development of personal, group, and leadership attributes

Jessie Hafer, WPR’s Outdoor Education Coordinator, is an experienced/certified teacher with a middle school endorsement. She collaborates with each school group to ensure all student needs are met.  For availability and program details, contact her for more information: [email protected], 815-732-7923.

    • Three meals and an evening snack per 24-hour period.

    • Horseback riding.

    • Use of facilities and equipment.

    • In-service training for participating teachers.

Several program options are available to meet your school’s various needs, cost constraints, and interests.