Welcome to AAPS Environmental Education  

Since 1960, our goal is to inform and educate students about the natural environment. Field trips are designed to enhance and support classroom curriculum, with specific tie-ins to grade-specific science studies.  

Do you have a question about the program?  We would love to hear from you!  Email Dave Szczygiel at szczygie@aaps.k12.mi.us.  Ask Dave about ways to support Environmental Education through volunteering and/or contributions to the endowment, which is managed by the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation.

Spring trips are running now!  
2nd Grade - Geology
2nd Grade - Life Cycles
3rd Grade - Habitat Walk 
3rd Grade - Pond Habitat
4th Grade - Water Tour
6th Grade - Urban Hydrology
7th Grade - Climate Change

2017-18 Field Trip Schedule   
Sorted by - Date  
Sorted by - School

EE staff, volunteers, and students celebrate the life of Bill Browning

Bill died on March 23, 2018, at the age of 87.  His contributions to the Environmental Education program are invaluable.  Simply put, the program would not exist today without the vision and passion that Bill brought to teaching and outdoor education.  Click HERE for an interview with Bill plus a link to his obituary.  

Thank you, Bill!

Dave Szczygiel is featured in the AAPS "Exceptional Teachers" Column

Click HERE to read this great article on Dave and the EE Program, by Jo Mathis, and view the video!

EE Volunteers make this program work.
Community volunteers join AAPS teachers and EE staff in the field, sharing extensive knowledge about science and the natural environment. It is thanks to their dedication and participation that these field trips are enjoyable and productive for AAPS students. 

Volunteer Spotlight: Clark McCall

Clark has volunteered for EE since 2013.  He likes all of the types of EE trips he has participated in, especially winter survival.  Working with the EE program provides a chance to share his enthusiasm for being outside with a new generation of students. 


Clark's background is in engineering.  He also volunteers with Common Cycle, a non-profit group in Ann Arbor that helps people learn how to repair their bicycles.  On Sunday afternoons in warm weather you can often find him at their outdoor workshop at Kerrytown helping people with their bikes.  He enjoys riding his bike everywhere.  As one small step toward a sustainable world, he would like to see more people riding their bikes.

Thank you, Clark!

Click HERE to see more volunteer pictures.

Thinking of volunteering?  Contact Dave Szczygiel at 734-368-5539 or szczygie@aaps.k12.mi.us to learn more.

Osprey at Olson Pond
Students from Ann Arbor Open headed to Olson Pond to study aquatic habitats and the animals that live in and around the pond. Many insect specimens were collected for study (and then released). Mid-way through the outing, an Osprey flew over head, and dove down to catch a fish!  Teacher Denise Chacon Lontin "brings on the birds" -  past trips to Olson Pond have included Bald Eagles and Trumpeter Swans.  Learn more about the fascinating abilities of the Osprey by clicking this CORNELL page, or for a video, click BBC VIDEO.  
Photo credit: National Geographic

On a mission!

Students from Pittsfield Elementary headed out for their Water Tour field trip, with a request from Ms. Winters, Secretary to the Principal.  "See if you can find out when our school's water was tested. It looks funny coming out of this faucet."  At the City of Ann Arbor Water Treatment Plant (WTP), Alisha Seefeld, Administrative Assistant, provided the most recent testing dates (in April). Then, Larry Sanford, Assistant Manager, gave the students a testing kit to bring back for use at the school. Even though the issues with the faucet are not related to the drinking water source, WTP staff saw a great opportunity for the class to put their science skills to work!  The students were most appreciative, as was Ms. Winters.

Watch us find where the water goes!

Students at Slauson Middle  School were studying urban hydrology at Olson Park. Their adventure included following the path that rainwater would take over the landscape.  Watch them exploring the area HERE.

Bald Eagles

These majestic raptors can be seen circling overhead. Recent sightings include Olson Pond, where A2 Steam students watched an eagle catch fish from the surface! Perfect connection to the classroom, as these students are studying ways to facilitate successful salmon populations in southeast Michigan. Just a few weeks later, Bach students on a Water Tour watched a bald eagle snatch a snake off the sand beds for lunch! Want to spot an eagle? Look for the enormous wing span - mature adults will have the distinctive white head and under-tail markings. Nests have been sited, including at Kensington MetroPark. This picture is from Barton Pond, where an eagle stopped by for lunch. Researcher Josh Cohen captured these images as part of a federal monitoring program. 

In the Netherlands, bald and golden eagles are trained to intercept drones. They are rewarded for their efforts with a piece of meat.  Read the article and watch the video HERE.

The American Eagle Foundation has a Live Eagle Cam tracking the progress of an eagle family in the Washington D.C. area. Click HERE to see live streaming video of the nest, chicks and adults. Check the links on their page for still image highlights.  © 2016 American Eagle Foundation, eagles.org 

Proper Trail Etiquette Protects Students and Wildlife
Naturalist guides are positioned at the front of students groups.  A calm walking pace and quiet voices mean increased opportunities to observe and learn about plants and animals in the area.
Michigan is home to a wide array of wildlife, including the eastern massasauga rattlesnake. This small, shy snake is Michigan’s only venomous snake. It is a protected species that is increasingly rare due to habitat loss. Massasauga means “great river mouth” in Chippewa, a nod to this snake’s preference for marshes and wetlands where its favorite foods - frogs and small rodents – can be found. 

The massasauga is a member of the pit viper family (Viperidae), considered to be the most highly developed of all the snakes. Pit vipers are named for the heat-sensitive “pits” located behind their nostrils. Curved fangs retract when not in use. When compared to other rattlesnakes found in the United States, the massasauga is the smallest and has the least toxic venom. Nonetheless, any bite from a massasauga should receive prompt professional medical attention.

Female massasaugas mature at three years. Massasauga rattlers are ovoviviparous (unshelled eggs develop in the body of the parent and hatch within or immediately after being expelled). Young are born in litters of 2 – 19.

Once out of hibernation in spring, massasaugas may “sun” or warm themselves during the day, but are generally nocturnal. On the trails, approaching footsteps alert the snake to arriving humans, giving the snake time to retreat to safety. Students should stay behind the naturalist guide on field trips. If a group encounters a massasauga, their guide will facilitate viewing from a distance and discussion of the snake’s special adaptations.

Learn more about massasaugas at:

Learn more about Michigan Snakes at: