School Programs

Ecology Field Program

The main program of the SMNHC, the Ecology Field Program, teaches every 5th grade class in APS, as well as many other private/charter schools and those in communities surrounding Albuquerque. 

Using the outdoors, this program teaches students about the inter-connectedness of the biotic and abiotic parts of an ecosystem with a hands-on scientific approach.

The program typically lasts 4-4 1/2 hours and consists of:
• 1/2-hour Ecosystem Introduction/Review
• 2-3 hour Nature Hike
• 1/2 hour Lunch Break
• Time permitting, an additional Hands-On Activity

Students are introduced to the local ecosystem, and producers, consumers, and decomposers that reside here, through a day of field exploration, observation, and hands-on learning in the outdoors.  All lessons and activities are aligned with the New Mexico State Science Standards, Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core State Standards for 5th graders. 

The program is free of charge for APS schools.  Those not part of APS will have to cover their own transportation to our site.

To schedule an ecology field program...

APS teachers contact:

Susanna Sprague Harris

Non-APS teachers contact:

Vanessa Barela

or call (505) 281-5259

Student quotes..

Traveling Ecology Field Program

For schools outside the Albuquerque area, we offer the Traveling Ecology Field Program statewide.  In this exciting program, the staff of the SMNHC will meet your students at a “wild” area near your school and will lead students on a nature hike, interpreting the natural surroundings to explain how all the parts of an ecosystem are connected. 

Outdoor teaching areas require hiking trails, restroom facilities, school bus access, and a parking area. Areas that have been used for the TEFP include State Parks, National Park Service sites, National Forest campgrounds and picnic areas, BLM land, and natural areas within walking distance of the school.

To schedule a Traveling EFP:

Vanessa Barela

(505) 281-5259

Kids 'n Parks Grant

Submissions closed for this year, but check back next year to receive transportation costs to go on a field trip to a state park! (with or without us)

Student Outreach Quotes

Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area

For schools in the Los Lunas/Belen area, we teach our Ecology Field Program at WWCA in Belen (  It covers all the main concepts as the EFP and utilizes a number of hands-on activities.  Students are led on a flat hike through the bosque ecosystem, learning about and closely observing cottonwood trees, a pond/water channel, sandhill cranes and other birds, native/non-native species, consumer evidence, and ecosystem restoration projects. 

The program typically lasts 3.5 hours, including a 1/2 hr. lunch.

To schedule a trip to WWCA, contact them at:
(505) 864-6460

New Mexico counties served in 2015-'16 school year:

Animal Investigations Program

We have offered an in-classroom program for the past 2 winters, open to 2nd and 3rd grade classes (and 4th grade in the 1st year).  Our instructors present a 1-hour lesson in your classroom about local animals. Students visit hands-on stations with animal "evidence" (skulls, tracks, fur) while recording their observations in a journal and figuring out what animal they come from. 

Program includes discussion of topics including scientific inquiry and observation, adaptations, habitat, behavior, and biodiversity. 

To inquire for next winter (Dec. '17- Feb. '18), contact:

Fiana Shapiro

(505) 281-5259

"The students enjoyed the presentation and cannot stop talking about the animal artifacts. Your staff was wonderful and deserve a big pat on the back."

"Thank you all for coming to our school. Presentation was fantastic . This is our 2nd year, and we're equally impressed!"

"I just wanted to thank you for a wonderful presentation that my second graders really enjoyed. They were very engaged in the presentation start to finish. The presenters did an amazing job! They were organized and gave very clear instructions and information."