A Guide for Parents, Teachers, Scout and Youth Group Leaders

Thorn Creek Nature Center offers educational programs throughout the year for schools, home school groups, day cares, preschools, youth groups, and also families and adult groups. Minimum group size for a program is 10; maximum is 20. Larger groups may be accommodated based on staff availability. Registration is required.

Wild Animal Tracks
Discover clues to wild animals’ identities and behavior by tracks and trails. Discover how animals survive through the different seasons. Bring home your own track replica.

Birding by Sight and Sound
Learn simple ways to identify and observe birds and their behavior using binoculars, field guides and birdcall tapes.

Creek Walk
Explore Thorn Creek and walk the waters of Thorn Creek and discover the world of aquatic insects and metamorphosis. For children ages 5 and up. Not available in winter, early spring or after heavy rains.

Trees Big and Small—the Lorax
A reading of the favorite Dr. Seuss tale will help you to identify trees by leaves and bark, find seedlings and young saplings, count the rings to find the oldest trees, measure the width of the trunks. Discover the inner workings of forest ecology.

Vixen’s Trek
You are the fox following your daily routines on Thorn Creek trails! See signs of your mammal, bird and reptile neighbors. Sniff logs, listen to the sounds of the woods, hunt for food and mark your territory.

Historic Farm Walk
Visit the preserve’s farm in the woods, feed the chickens, help with chores, and learn how to make compost. Available May-June & August-September. Not available in wet weather.

Fall Color Walk
Learn why leaves change colors and what trees do to prepare for the long months of winter. Available September and October.

Insects Abound!
Discover what makes an insect unique. Explore the differences between insects, spiders, and other fascinating arthropods. Search for insects in a meadow, learning their unique sounds and special relationships with flowers. Available July and August.

Web of Life
Entangle yourself in a group constructed web of life, discovering firsthand the interdependence of producers, consumers, predators & decomposers. Dissect an owl pellet for a detailed examination of one important woodland predator/prey relationship. (Added fee of $5 per person for owl pellets.)

Soils Hike
Is all soil created equal? Do we find different mineral layers in different places? Come and see, smell, taste and feel for the answers to these questions. Learn how soil fuels and supports every form of life in the woods.

Night Hikes
Available at special request and based on staff availability.

All programs require a minimum of four weeks notice. Fees: groups of 1-10 for $25, groups of 11-20 for $50, and groups of 21-30 for $75. Additional fees for materials may apply for some programs. Programs are typically 1 to 1.5 hours in length, including trail hikes.

Nature Center Tours
Nature Center tours are available but will require additional time. These programs plan for groups to experience Thorn Creek Nature Preserve firsthand. Participants should dress for outdoor weather and natural terrain trails. All programs are held outdoors.

Program participants should wear closed-toe shoes (no sandals), long pants and a hat or bandana, if necessary. If you are concerned about mosquitoes, please bring bug spray. For more information, or to register, call or email Thorn Creek Nature Center at 708-747-6320 or


Nature Education Programs at Thorn Creek Nature Center are sponsored by the Thorn Creek Audubon Society.

This new partnership furthers the Society’s environmental education mission and gives valuable assistance to Thorn Creek Nature Center in providing nature programming for groups of area children and adults.

For information about Thorn Creek Audubon Society membership, events and projects contact: Thorn Creek Audubon Society, P. O. Box 895, Park Forest, Il 60466, or