Van Cortlandt Park Alliance (VCPA), formed by the merger of the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park and the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy, 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. Educational programs focus on hands-on exploration of nature and real world science skills. All trips are customizable. If you run an after school or weekend program and want to work with us or have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss possibilities. Please note: trip locations are different than the listed office location on this site and will be emailed to you in confirmation. Payments are due at booking and are non-refundable unless we decide the trip must be cancelled due to weather or staff emergencies.
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.
Do one of our programs look good but you are not able to do field trips this year? Through a virtual program the expertise of VCPA staff can still be utilized in your classroom to talk to your students about an array of topics. Bringing in an expert is a great way to start or end a unit about sustainability, climate change, trees, plants, water and more. Program is customizable to fit your needs. Because the program is just a click away the 45 minute- 1 hour program time can be fit to your specific class time.
Once a time slot is booked VCPA staff will contact you to determine timing and content.
biology, ecosystems, nutrition, the water cycle, adaptation
$50.00 per Group for School Group
Explore Van Cortlandt forest, learn what a forester does and lend a hand with a stewardship project in the park. This program takes students on a hike through Van Cortlandt Park discussing what a forest is and what a foresters role in managing a forest is. Students then investigate a forest plot and spend time removing non native plants or planting native trees.
science, biology, ecosystems
Freshwater Ecology explores the ecosystem of Hester and Piro's Mill Pond in Van Cortlandt Park. Students talk about what a man made, freshwater pond and then search through a leaf pack to collect, identify, and classify macroinvertibrates to determine the diversity of the lake ecosystem. (Note- students do not get into the water)
ecosystems, animals, adaptation
Get your students outside and hitting their 10,000 step goals! This program is designed to get students outside and exploring the trails of Van Cortlandt Park through a guided hike. 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.
Want to see more of the park- use this hike as a kickoff for the 21 in 21 Challenge, Kids version.
The Challenge- should you choose to accept it- is to hike the trails of the park anytime during 2021, let your friend, family and school community know to help us raise awareness of the need to maintain Van Cortlandt Park, and wear your finishers patch with pride once complete because you earned it.
The Trails- (Map will be provided)
Cass Gallagher (1.4 miles)
John Kieran (0.8 miles)
John Muir - Roundtrip Required (3.8 miles)
Cross Country Course (4 miles)
Old Croton Aqueduct in VCP- Roundtrip Required (4.6 miles)
Putnam Greenway in VCP - Roundtrip (3 miles)
Bridle Path- Roundtrip Required (1.7 mile)
Jerome Wetland Walk (0.3 miles)
Hikers choice- repeat your favorite trail for the remaining 1.4 miles
The cost and the swag:
A $50 initial fee will get your group an in person hike led by VCPA staff to start off your 21 miles and a discounted per person fee for those wanting to complete the challenge (which will be coordinated with VCPA staff) will receive a sticker, finishers patch, magnifying lens, map of the Park and information about VCPA.
Packets will be brought on day of in person hike and finishers patch will be mailed upon completion of the challenge (starting in the fall). Email Sara Kempton email@example.com with any questions.
Nature awareness encourages students to use their 5 senses to observe the park around them as they walk through the forest and wetlands. 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. Programs for younger grades will run shorter if needed.
science, biology, ecosystems, life sciences, animals
The Alliance Garden and Compost Site is home to 900 square feet of vegetables beds growing tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and more, and half a dozen compost bins that house bugs and worms that turn our food scraps and garden weeds into nutrient rich compost. Garden Explorations allows your students to connect the parts of a plant to common vegetables they eat, talk about pollinators, or search for worms and other decomposers in our compost bins. It's hands in the dirt educational fun.
biology, agriculture, botany
Get your group outside to help grow vegetables for a local meals program, turn food scraps 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 900 square feet of vegetable beds, harvesting produce; adding organic material to compost bins, chopping turning and sifting bins; and more.
We provide tools and gloves and information about what we do in our site and why, and you guys provide excited students ready to come spend the giving back to their park and community. Enter the park at Broadway and Mosholu Ave.
biology, nutrition, agriculture, botany
$0.00 per Person for Free
These programs are geared towards HS level regents and AP environmental studies students and aims 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 education staff from VCPA will contact you to determine which of the following programs (based on real world on-going work being done within Van Cortlandt Park) you are interested in.
- Freshwater Ecology at Van Cortlandt Lake (Includes water quality measures, benthic macroinvertebrate identification, eutrophication)
- Invasive Species Project: (Lab features videos for in school lab time and field work in Van Cortlandt Park. Covers causes and effects of invasive species and how ecosystems respond using a site within VC as a field study.)
Each topic is customizable to fit the needs of your class. VCPA will provide a lab for each that contains pre trip work and hands on, day of trip components aimed to focus on topics most likely to occur on AP or regents exams and provide required lab time.
Due to Covid-19 in Park components can be adjusted for a virtual experience with VCPA staff to delve deeper into the lab topic if field trips are not permitted.
biology, ecosystems, life sciences, the water cycle, the scientific method
$50.00 per Group for School Group