Educational Programs

Kosciusko County SWCD offers a variety of educational programs in both a classroom and field setting.  Listed here are selections of our tried and true presentations. SWCD is also willing to custom design something new to meet a specific need, as time and staff allow.


We bring the lesson and supplies to your classroom or group for this selection of programs on a variety of natural resource topics.  Efforts are made to make a local connection to all lessons.  Most programs run 45 minutes to 1 hour and there are no fees involved.

Soil, It’s a Lot More Than Dirt!  Is pizza made from soil?  Soil can be red, blue or green? Are there really soil dwelling vampires?  These are just some of the soil trivia discussed in this soil basics program.  Students will learn how soils are made, different soil types and their characteristics, local and worldwide soils, as well as the importance of soil conservation efforts.  A giant pizza is used to demonstrate soil’s important role in food production.  Best suited: elementary

Indiana’s Water Riches   This program is a five part series that can be scheduled individually or as a series.  Each unit can stand alone.  Units include: How We Use It, Where It Comes From, Above and Below Ground, Pollution, and Conservation.  All units include instruction, followed by student hands-on activities to demonstrate concepts.  Best suited: upper elementary, middle school

Why Does Kosciusko Look This Way?  Take a look at the geological history and events that shaped Kosciusko County and Indiana, with emphasis on glaciers, soil types and our abundance of water.  It starts 600 million years ago and travels through time to present day.  Students interact with maps, a glacial model and fossils.  Best suited: upper elementary, middle school

Water Magic/Water Cycle  Water behaves like nothing else on our planet and appears magical in this series of demonstrations of water’s unique physical properties.  A discussion on the importance of the water cycle, water’s place in our lives and a conservation message is included.  Best suited: elementary

Trees Are Terrific!  Leaf samples, seeds, and tree cookies are used to discuss basic tree structure, function and identification.  At the end of the program, students are involved in building a “human” tree!  Best suited: elementary

Earthworms  Fascinating and beneficial, earthworms are the stars of the show in this program.  After a discussion on the benefits, physiology and habits of the earthworm, students are given a worm to observe physical characteristics, document behaviors and make measurements.  At the end of the program, students might be given the opportunity to eat a worm!  Best suited: elementary, middle school

Incredible, Edible Landfill  Students assist with the construction of a landfill made from edible materials.  The program includes a discussion of landfill construction, soils, solid waste choices and stewardship.  Best suited: elementary, middle school

The Lorax  This popular Dr. Seuss tale is used as a backdrop for a stewardship themed program.  It begins with the showing of the cartoon, followed by a discussion on relationships in nature and making individual choices.  Students are encouraged to “re-write” the story for a more positive ending.  The program ends with students learning a special quote using hand signing.  A great Earth Day program!  Best suited: elementary

Owls and their Pellets  This program looks at Indiana’s owls, with emphasis on the Barn Owl.  A discussion on healthy habitats is included at this look at owls of Indiana.  Following discussion, students are given an owl pellet to dissect, enabling students to reconstruct the skeleton of the owl’s last meal!  This program is an effective way to demonstrate food chains and skeletal structure.  Best suited: upper elementary, middle school

This We Know…All Things Are Connected  The poetic words of Chief Seattle’s famous speech on taking care of the land is the foundation of this program.  A short and beautifully filmed movie is shown, followed by reflective discussion on stewardship and the power of personal choice.  Best suited: all ages

River Otters  This program is a real endangered species success story!  As an extirpated, then endangered species just a few years ago, the river otter has made an amazing comeback through the efforts of a reintroduction program in Indiana.  One of the release areas was right here in Kosciusko County.  This program looks at the history, reasons for decline, physical features, behaviors and reintroduction of this animal, featuring a real river otter specimen.  Best suited: all ages

Bald Eagles  Bald Eagles are being seen more and more in Kosciusko County.  This program is a Bald Eagle primer on this bird’s physiology, historic challenges and comeback.  Several hands-on pieces involve students in the demonstration of this bird’s physical features.  Best suited: all ages

Freshwater Mussels…From Buttons and Pearls to Trouble  All of Indiana’s native freshwater mussel species are protected.  These seemingly unobtrusive creatures are fascinating when one examines their history and morphology.  This presentation examines why mussels are great water quality indicators and the reasons they are one of the most endangered species worldwide.  A discussion of significant populations in Kosciusko County rivers is included.  Best suited: all ages

Enviroscape  This model demonstrates the different ways water is used in a community and is purposefully flawed to show the potential for pollution.  This program includes a discussion on point source and nonpoint sources pollutants, as well as, corrective conservation practices.  Best suited: upper elementary and above  *Note – not well suited for large groups.

Groundwater Flow Model  This model shows what groundwater is, how it moves, how different soils affect that movement, aquifers, the connection to surface water, and how contamination can occur.  Water continuously moves through this model, demonstrating the continuous movement and behavior of this precious underground resource.  Best suited: upper elementary and above  *Note – not well suited for large groups


It is one thing to read about something in a book or hear about it in a presentation, but quite another to experience it first-hand!  SWCD has developed field programs for some favorite local properties.  They are an effective way to learn about our county’s natural resources, their interactions and conservation practices.  Staff may also be available to come to a site of your selection to conduct “in the field” presentations, as time and staff permit.

Water Testing  Do you have a stream or other body of water that you would like to do some water testing in?  We will bring the supplies and you supply the students!  Choices for this program include: temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, nitrates, phosphates, turbidity and macro invertebrate sampling.

Wildwood  This ACRES, Inc property, just east of Silver Lake on S.R. 14, offers many opportunities for study.  Several different ecosystems overlap here including: prairie, pond, wetland, woodland and cropland.  A variety of options are available, from tree and plant id, water testing, soils, animal tracks/scat, birds, habitats, etc.  It has a wonderful trail system and is a great place to experience several lessons or focus on one.

Kelly Park  Programs at this park include activities from the award-winning programs of Project Learning Tree, Project WILD and Project WET.  The standard program includes: predator/prey activity, woodland scavenger hunt, pond scoping, tree activity, bird feeders and learning to use binoculars.  This program was developed for first grades and is one of our most popular!

Pike Lake Wetlands  This program is on the Beyer Boardwalk of the Lake City Greenway (access from hospital side or Pike Lake beach side) and focuses on the value of wetlands.  Several study units have been developed for this wetland site including: wetland basics, bird migration, wetland soils, wetland plant adaptations, track/scat study, water testing.  A wetland sampler is available that includes several of these topics in round robin style.

River Expedition  This program has been designed specifically for high school students by Arrow Head Country RC&D and only occurs in September.  Students take rafts down the Tippecanoe River at Tippecanoe River State Park (near Winamac) and learn about many aspects of the river and its watershed.  Specific focus is given to plant and animal species, water testing, sources of water pollution, conservation practices, forestry and land use.  It is a full day of instruction both on and off the water.