Kids & Families
Family Classes

Child digs in soil
Little Nature Explorers
Ages 3–5 with an Adult
Hands-on indoor and outdoor activities help strengthen your child's connection to the natural world. (Part of the Little Years early childhood series.)
Kids observing crayfish
Shaw Family Adventures
Ages 3–12 with an Adult

Join us for an adventure and get hands-on with nature! Outdoor activities help you learn together about plants, animals and outdoor skills.
Child with just-caught fishNature Navigators
Ages 6–12 with an Adult
Learn about nature as you have fun outdoors! Each program involves an outdoor activity where you use your senses and master a skill.

Our classes for kids and families have been designed for children and adults to experience together. Instructors strive to engage children in age-appropriate activities, while providing adults examples of ways to learn about the natural world at home. Many other classes are available, in addition to the series listed above.

Go to class listings and online registration
Download our refund and cancellation policy

Check out upcoming youth and family programs at the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Butterfly House. We also have opportunities for scouts and summer camp groups!

Children's Nature Play Areas

Girls balancing on log
The Nature Explore Classroom and Sense of Wonder Woodland are designed to help children develop a sense of wonder for the natural world through unstructured and creative play with natural materials in an outdoor setting.
Learn more
Geocaching & GPS Hiking

Boy looking at GPS unit
Attend one of our geocaching classes or come enjoy the sport on your own. Please keep all geocaches in their original location.
Download a list of our geocaches

GPS Hiking
We have created a guide for people familiar with using their GPS unit to explore new areas of the Reserve.
Download the GPS-based hiking guide

Outdoor Adventures for Teens

Paddlers learn to stand up
Families with teens can enjoy fishing or climbing into the tree canopy. Older teens can learn to fly fish, kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Preregistration is required for these exciting classes!
Learn more
Family Self-guided Activities

Visitor Center
Trail Guides
Explore the wetland, prairie or forest with activities to do along mapped-out hikes.
Cost: $2; target ages: 10–16

Little Acorn Trail
Check out a free backpack to unlock activity boxes along this short trail.
Cost: free; target ages: 3–7

Guides and backpacks are available at the Visitor Center.

Programs for Youth & Teens

Girls walking in prairie The Shaw Nature Reserve is excited to offer clubs, a volunteer program, and a field ecologist program for students in grades 4–12.

Habitat Helpers
Grades 4–5
This ecology club has been running strong for 20 years and counting. The program builds knowledge of the natural world by exploring prairies, woodlands and aquatic communities. Participants help at Prairie Day and the Wildflower Market. Download an application

Grades 6–8
This ecology club has been running strong for 10 years. This fun and educational opportunity fosters appreciation for science and nature through games and activities that focus on the plants, animals and ecosystems of the Shaw Nature Reserve. Participants help at Prairie Day and the Wildflower Market. Download an application

Habitat Helpers and H2O's meet once a month from September to May, plus help at Prairie Day and the Wildflower Market. Applications for the 2015–2016 school year are due August 10, 2015. 

If you have questions about Habitat Helpers or H2Os, please contact Karen Bryan at (636) 451-3512 x 6008. 

TREEs (Teen Reserve Environmental Educators)
Grades 11–12
Part of the MBG Teen Network TREEs help with special events, lead portions of the Reserve’s family programs and help teach the ecology clubs (Habitat Helpers and H2Os). In 2015 the TREEs became official Missouri Botanical Garden volunteers.

TREEs must attend our 2 events and help with as many programs as they can. Applications are always due the 1st of September. Most programs/events take place September-May Download an application and fill out the online volunteer form.

If you have questions about TREEs please contact Rachel Weller at (636) 451-3512 x 6007.

Also available:

Part of the MBG Teen NetworkSIFT (Shaw Institute for Field Training
Students entering Grade 11
The SIFT program is a one-week summer field training experience at Shaw Nature Reserve combined with additional training and paid field work activities during the rest of the summer and following school year.Learn more

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For Ages 2–5

Little Years logo Early childhood programs designed for today's busy families.
Learn more


Teen Programs

Teen Network
Four programs to choose from and several places to learn!
Learn more


Stay Overnight

Assembly building

Groups can stay in historic lodges at our Dana Brown Overnight Center.
Learn more
Book now! Call Aileen at (636) 451-3512 x 6081.