School Guide: Outdoor Education

Not all learning happens in a desk or behind a computer screen. Get the kids outside with these awesome options in the Kansas City area. Options range from hiking trails to individual exploration to organized group classes and learning.

The Anita B. Gorman Conservation Center

Free nature programs each Saturday. Free nature programs for Missouri schools by reservation.

Beanstalk Children’s Garden

Part of the Kansas City Community Gardens, the Leanna Flandermeyer Beanstalk Children’s Garden is a unique garden where children and adults can come to learn about growing food, how insects play an important role in gardening, nutrition, and plant science. All of the plants are labeled so you can do a self-guided tour. There are several sections in the garden including: vegetables, fruits, herbs, seeds and grains, the curiosity garden and a beautiful water garden. Admission to the garden is free, and is open June-October.

Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area

Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area is 1,071-acre property located in Blue Springs just north of I-70. Burr Oak Woods was purchased in 1977 and the Nature Center was built in 1982, the first nature center in the State of Missouri. The Nature Center was updated in February 2016 with new interactiveexhibits. Natural features on the area include steep forested hillsides along Burr Oak Creek (the namesake of the property), large limestone boulders and outcrops, restored prairies and woodlands, and a trail complex that will guide visitorsthrough many of the listed features.

Ernie Miller Nature Center

Ernie Miller in Johnson County offers living history programs, wildlife programs and outdoor skills. Naturalists or Park Police can present to up to 35 people in one program. Students can also hike and explore the park, experience the live animals and educational exhibits inside the nature center all on their own for no fee.

Lakeside Nature Center

Lakeside Nature Center offers a variety of wildlife and environmental science programs and activities for families, children, schools, groups, and adults. Schedule an exciting program for your group or plan to attend one of our regularly scheduled wildlife presentations or events. A visit to Lakeside Nature Center is free. A small fee is charged for most programs.

The Native Hooved Animal Enclosure

This 110-acre fenced enclosure is home to bison, elk and white-tailed deer. Bring your family to stare a buffalo in the eye or enjoy watching a family of elk playing in a pasture. The Animal Enclosure is located near Lake Jacomo in Fleming Park.

Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

The 300-acre Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens is an educational, recreational and cultural resource for the Kansas City region. At the Arboretum, you’ll experience gardens with more than 1,700 species of plants, a variety of landscapes, including meticulous gardens, wild hiking trails, and open prairie, and different educational opportunities around every bend in the path.

Parkville Nature Sanctuary

The Parkville Nature Sanctuary is a wildlife preserve and educational site developed and maintained by the City of Parkville with the help of a group of extraordinary volunteers. The Parkville Nature Sanctuary is a 115 acre natural outdoor area made accessible by nearly three miles of hiking trails.

Powell Gardens

With seven-themed gardens across 100 botanical acres, Powell Gardens is great to visit all year long. Check out their online education resources as well.

Prairie Oak Nature Center

The Prairie Oak Nature Center offers fun environmental education programs for all ages. Stop by the Nature Center or look in the Leawood Parks and Recreation Guide to see programs that are currently scheduled. In addition to the scheduled programs our on-site naturalist will work with teachers, youth leaders and other organizations to provide a program just for their group.

Prairie Park Nature Center

Prairie Park Nature Center opened in 1999 as a 100-acre nature preserve on the east side of Lawrence. The preserve incorporates wetlands, woodlands and prairie habitats and a five acre lake. Visitors may see a wide variety of native Kansas wildlife on the property including beavers, deer, bobcats and birds of prey.

Well Wilderness Kids Therapeutic Nature Center

Well Wilderness Kids Therapeutic Nature Center offers inclusive programs for children of all ages and abilities with the mission of supporting child development through sensory & social emotional experiences in a nature-based setting.  We are committed to serving as guardians of play for all children. The program is staffed by a team of pediatric professionals including Early Childhood Educators, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists, & Music Therapists. Programs include Parent Tot Playgroups, Private Therapies, Seasonal Camps, Mindfulness Programs,

Wildwood Outdoor Education Center

Students in a hands-on exploration of the natural world where active learning in a fun, fresh-air environment creates renewal and enthusiasm. Wildwood programs are designed to achieve positive youth-development outcomes like increased affinity for nature, interest in exploration, teamwork and problem-solving confidence for school-aged kids.

Related posts


Sarah is mama to 9-year-old, Henry, 6-year-old Clark and 4-year-old Lucy. After growing up in Manhattan, Kansas (Go Cats!), she moved to Minnesota where she met her husband, Shea. Realizing how much she hated snow in May, she convinced him to move to Kansas City in 2010. Together they have lived in Midtown, Waldo, the Plaza before migrating to Johnson County. Sarah has her master’s in urban administration and is currently in the Kansas City Centurions program. In between the crazy, she likes to drink coffee, run, travel (but never to the same place twice), and experience all things Kansas City!