Nature Discovery

Nature Discovery class.

Founded in 1986, Nature Discovery for Kids is a summer program of Monday through Thursday weekly classes (8:30am to 11:00am) organized by professional educators aimed at connecting young people with the natural world around them. Our instructors use hands-on activities to teach students about nature and science. In each class our students get to explore outdoors and experience different parts of the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park. We encourage them to observe, share, and ask lots of questions. We value the input of our young naturalists and we use their ideas, observations, and questions to guide our programs each day. The Nature Discovery program is proudly sponsored by the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park and is administered by the Friends of the Rio Grande Nature Center, a non-profit organization established to support the park and its mission.

2021 classes are as follows:

All classes start at 8:30AM and end at 11:00AM

Everything Nature Center June 14th-17th (FULL)
Tracking June 21st -24th (FULL)
Predators and Prey July 5th -8th 
Amphibians and Reptiles July 12th-15th 


Registration Information:

NOTE: Registration for each class ends at noon the Sunday before the class begins on Monday. Registration is online only this year. 

You may register your child for a class online. Starting this year we will no longer process registrations at the front desk. (The Program Waiver form (liability waiver) must be signed and mailed [or faxed] in either case.) Note that we accept Visa and MasterCard only. We do not have an electronic registration system.

Please use a separate registration packet for each child including the registration form and signed waiver. We need only one survey form per family per summer. Once a signed waiver is on file, it is not necessary to submit another one when registering for a subsequent, additional class. 

Refund Policy:

Please read the refund policy carefully. It is designed to be fair to everyone. The number of students registered affects those on the waiting list, lesson plans, purchase of supplies and materials, bookkeeping, payments to the teachers and to the Friends of RGNC, whether a class is canceled or expanded, and more.

  1. Refunds and Transfers: Must be requested no later than 4pm, the Wednesday before class begins (by 4:00pm the Wednesday before the class begins on the next Monday). Call the Visitors Center 344-7240 to make a request.
  2. Last Minute Cancellations by Parents: You may substitute another child if you must cancel past the refund deadline. However, the parent/guardian of the new child must fill out a registration form and sign a waiver. 
  3. Class Cancellations by Instructors: Classes will be canceled if they have an enrollment of fewer than ten students by the Wednesday before a Monday-Thursday class. Parents will be notified and will have the option of a refund or a transfer to another class, if available. PLEASE NOTE: If you fax or mail in registration and do NOT receive a receipt and copy of your registration form by mail before the class is to begin, please check with the Visitors Center (344-7240) to be sure the class has not been canceled and that your child is registered before attending class.
  4. FRGNC Administration will make the final decisions on refunds. Refunds are given only by check. Please allow at least two weeks after the scheduled date of the class. No refunds can be given after the five-day deadline as noted above. For questions on your specific refund call: Krista Pink, Director of Nature Discovery, at 505-363-0992.

Parent/Guardian Information (Please read before registering):

Classes will be held regardless of weather. Classes meet at the group shelter in front of the Education Building, south of the parking lot. After class, we return the children to the group shelter for pick up. Parents/Guardians must sign children in and out of class.  

Sessions often begin with a factual overview of the topic. This might be in the form of discussion, game, pictures, slides, short video, and study of models or real animals. Exploration and observation are exciting and so our daily nature hikes are a favorite of many students. Frequently there are trail activities and games, such as scavenger hunts, collecting and viewing insects, or collecting data. Some classes collect and observe specimens (which are then returned to nature) and some classes have projects.  Classes spend time at the beautiful observation room in the Visitor’s Center, the education building, the outdoor classroom and/or other Nature Center volunteer-maintained gardens as well as areas not normally accessible to the public. Our classes often end with discussion and review of what was learned.

  • Meet teachers at the group shelter in front of the Education Building (south of the parking lot.)
  • BE ON TIME for class!! We may begin with a hike and you may miss us. Parents will be required to
    sign in and out their children for each class.
  • Parents, please pick up your child/ren ON TIME at the group shelter. We greatly appreciate it!
  • We will be hiking through the Bosque where there may be scratchy bushes and rough paths, so wear
    shoes good for walking (no flip-flops!) and comfortable clothes that protect and can get dirty.
  • We will be outside! Apply sunscreen & or insect repellent before class and you may want a hat.
  • You may bring water in a non-breakable, easy to carry container. (Children carry their own!)
  • Ask teachers about snacks at first class. Cell phones may only be used with permission of teacher for
    taking pictures. No pictures of other children may be taken and NO other uses of cell phones permitted.

Rules for Parents

  • Please be prompt. Classes meet as described above and disperse throughout the area. If you are too late you may not find your class.
  • Students must wear closed toe shoes for safety
  • Please pick up your children on time – we greatly appreciate it!
  • Parents cannot attend class due to limited space and supplies.
  • Please read the refund policy carefully. It is designed to be fair to everyone.

Rules for Students

  • Children must stay with the group at all times.
  • Please don’t bring electronic games, toys or other distractions. Check with teachers for permission before bringing specimens to show.
  • It is imperative that children behave and obey instructors. Potential safety hazards will be discussed. Those who conduct or influence creates safety or discipline problems will be asked to leave. They will not receive a refund.
  • Cell phones may be used to take pictures of nature, only. Students may not take pictures of other students nor play games or communicate on cell phones during class.
  • Check with each teaching team on their food rules before bringing snacks. 

Parking at the Nature Center

NM State Parks requires a $ 3-day use fee (exact change or check) per vehicle entering the RGNCSP grounds, except for Friends of the RGNC permit holders and State Parks annual permit holders with a valid permit displayed. Please consider carpooling, or join the Friends of the RGNC for $30 and get an RGNC day use pass which is good for one year. You will also get 10% off the fees for each class. 

Covid-19 Practices as of May 15th, 2021

We are very excited to open Nature Discovery for Kids again this summer. We look forward to providing a safe, healthy, and happy time for all students. Please read the following to ensure your students safety.

  • The class will be a small group between 8 to 12 students.
  • All students will have their own work space that will be three feet apart facing the same direction.
  • All students will have their own supplies (provided by the camp)  at their workstation
  • Masks are required for all students that cover their mouth and nose at all times.
  • Students will maintain social distancing of at least three feet apart.
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided (please inform the teacher of personal hand sanitizer)
  • Students will need to provide water bottles for personal use.
  • Only two students at a time in the bathroom.
  • All surfaces will be wiped down with disinfectant wipes after class along with all supplies provided.

**We ask that any student that has a fever, cough or difficulty breathing please stay home and contact Rio Grande Nature Center. If a student exhibits any of these symptoms during class you will be contacted to pick your child up from clas