Fall 2023 availability now posted!
Van Cortlandt Park Alliance (VCPA) preserves, supports, and promotes the recreational, ecological, and historical value of Van Cortlandt Park. VCPA provides educational, stewardship, and research opportunities as well as community programs to over 8,000 people per year.
A trip to VCPA adds over 1,146 acres to your classroom. Educators focus on hands-on exploration of nature using real world science skills to engage your students and bring your classroom learning to life. Field, forest, pond, and garden ecosystems are utilized to allow children from pre-K through high school a safe and fun experience in nature.
If you run an after-school or weekend program and want to work with us or have questions, please email email@example.com to discuss possibilities.
Trip locations will be emailed to you upon program confirmation. (80 Van Cortlandt Park South is our mailing address!)
Programs take place rain or shine.
Payment is due at booking to reserve your trip slot and is non-refundable unless VCPA cancels the trip due to weather conditions or staff emergency.
There are various outdoor areas where a group can eat lunch.
There are public rest stations within the park at various locations. Most trips are not far from a rest station.
All trips occur outside and run rain or shine. Heavy downpours, lightening or other extreme weather will cause us to cancel a trip. Whenever possible the trip will be rescheduled.
Visit the VCPA Youth Run Farm Stand where you’ll meet the teens who manage a real-life farmers market!
Pre-k kids learn to identify locally grown vegetables. Older kids learn what parts of the plant we eat, sample local produce, decorate pumpkins during the fall, and talk with VCPA’s high school interns about running the market.
Activities (and veggies!) vary with the season. Each child gets a $2 voucher to shop–and work on their math skills while trying new foods and building ownership over choices that build healthy eating habits.
The market is located on the corner of Orloff Avenue and Gale Place. Trips are available from July through October after 2 pm.
money, science, nutrition
$150.00 per Group for Private School
$125.00 per Group for Non School Group
$125.00 per Group for Public School
$100.00 per Group for Title I School
Geared toward high school level Regents exams and AP Environmental Studies classes to expose students to the concepts, methods, and modes of field analysis used by biologists and research ecologists working in urban freshwater and forest ecosystems.
Once booked, VCPA staff will contact you to select an aquatic or terrestrial study.
Freshwater Ecology: Includes water quality measurement, benthic macroinvertebrate identification, and pond health assessment. Approx. 90 minutes
Invasive Species Project: Includes causes and effects of invasive plants as well as how ecosystems respond, using a real site in the park as a field study. Features videos for in-school lab time and field work in Van Cortlandt Park. Approx. 120 min
Each topic is customizable to fit the needs of your class. VCPA will provide a lab that contains pre-visit work and hands-on, day-of trip components that focus on topics most likely to appear on AP or Regents exams.
biology, ecosystems, life sciences, the water cycle, the scientific method
$175.00 per Group for Private School
$150.00 per Group for Non School Group
$150.00 per Group for Public School
$125.00 per Group for Title I School
Explore an urban forest, learn what a forester does, and lend a hand with a stewardship project in the park. First, students take a gentle hike through Van Cortlandt Park’s woodlands, then they investigate a forest site and spend time removing invasive plants or planting native trees.
science, biology, ecosystems
Using all of their senses to observe the park around them, students experience the forest, field, and wetlands of Van Cortlandt Park.
This program can be customized to fit any age or topic and can focus on the seasons, trees, animals, ecosystems, or simply getting your students outside and making observations.
Program length: 45-75 minutes, depending on age and ability.
science, biology, ecosystems, life sciences, animals
Note: This program is now booked through the VCPA Volunteer Page at https://vancortlandt.org/programs-overview/community-stewardship/
With miles of hiking trails and hundreds of acres of natural areas within Van Cortlandt Park, your students can help maintain a healthy park. Depending on the season, students will help with trail maintenance, invasive plant removal, or planting projects to promote a healthy ecosystem.
Best for older students, middle school and up, the average volunteer day is 2-3 hours long and is customized to fit each group.
$200.00 per Group for Private School
$100.00 per Group for Public School
This program is designed to get students outside to explore the park’s trails with an experienced guide. Hikes range in length but average 2-3 hours and can include beautiful lookout points, forest and wetland areas, and geological features of the park. Great for getting those steps in and with so many trail options is appropriate for all levels of hiking ability.
Is the pond a healthy ecosystem? How can we tell?
Students explore the ecosystem of Hester & Piero’s Mill Pond in search of answers to these questions. By observing and identifying macroinvertebrates found in the pond, students will determine the diversity of the pond ecosystem and learn how that information helps scientists gauge the health of that system.
Note: Students do not enter the water.
ecosystems, animals, adaptation
Everything in the garden is connected! Students will learn that familiar vegetables they eat are actually parts of plants grown in the garden; they will see how bees and butterflies help the garden grow; and they will explore the role worms and other decomposers play in making rich soil for planting. Get ready to get your hands dirty!
biology, agriculture, botany
Help plant or harvest vegetables, turn food scraps and weeds into compost, and make sure our garden is running smoothly. Tasks vary by group and season but include general maintenance of the site: weeding and watering the vegetable beds; harvesting produce; adding organic material to compost bins; chopping, turning, and sifting bins; and lots more!
We provide tools, gloves, and garden information. You provide eager students, ready to spend some time giving back to the park and their community.
Enter the park at Broadway and Mosholu Ave.
biology, nutrition, agriculture, botany