Options to Connect with Nature from Anywhere

Virtual Ecosystem Explorations (VEE) (All grades!)

These live interactive experiences focus on exploring Missouri native ecosystems while building inquiry and other 21st-century skills! Students actively engage with nature as they observe, discuss and reflect on the nature around their home, school, and at Shaw Nature Reserve. Virtual Ecosystem Explorations are customized to be grade-level appropriate and support many Missouri Learning and Next Generation Science Standards.

  • Group Size: minimum 15 students
  • Fee: FREE
  • To Register: call (314) 577-9539 or email jdockins@mobot.org.
  • Other Details: Each VEE class consists of 2 parts:
    • An optional pre-program activity introducing students to Shaw Nature Reserve, DBOC education staff, and the skills students will practice throughout the program
    • A one-hour live virtual visit with Shaw Nature Reserve focusing on developing observation skills, asking testable questions, making evidence-based explanations, and sharing ideas to investigate and understand native Missouri ecosystems 
  • Prior to programming, Reserve Education staff will work with teachers to arrange access to the school’s preferred video platform and determine grade-level appropriate program components to support their classroom curriculum.

Virtual Ecosystem Exploration (VEE) Class Descriptions:

Where will visitors enter during construction?

Visitors to the Garen will always enter through a permanent structure. Throughout 2020, visitors will continue to enter through the Ridgway Visitor Center, just as they do now. Once construction is finished on our new event space, we will move everyday operations to the new building and tear down Ridgway.

Nature Observations in the Wetland

tree trunk chewed on by beaverNature Observations fosters connections with the natural world while strengthening students’ observation skills. During this program, students use scientific curiosity prompts to make observations, ask questions, and connect nature discoveries to previous experiences and knowledge. Alongside DBOC staff, students practice applying these science practices as they work together to solve Shaw Nature Reserve mysteries and virtually explore and make sense of a native Missouri wetland ecosystem.

Where will visitors buy tickets?

Just as they do now, visitors can buy tickets on our website or at the front desk of Ridgway throughout 2020. Once the first part of the new event space opens, visitors will be able to buy tickets at a ticket counter in the new space. After the entire project is complete, visitors will buy tickets in the lobby of the new Visitor Center.  

Will the Garden Gate Shop remain open?

Yes, visitors will still be able to purchase products from the Garden Gate Shop throughout this project. Throughout 2020, the Garden Gate Shop will remain open as it is now.

Nature Journaling in the Glade

Leaf comparison drawings Encourage your students to slow down and notice the natural world around them! In this VEE class, students gain experience using words, sketches, and measurements to record their observations, ideas, and questions about nature. Alongside DBOC staff, students practice scientifically-focused nature journaling while virtually exploring the Reserve’s glade ecosystem and discovering some of the unique plants and animals who live there.

Nature Tracking in the Forest

Animal foot prints In this VEE class, students investigate in and around their home or school as well as virtually in the Nature Reserve’s forest for wildlife and wildlife track and sign. Students collect and evaluate evidence to develop explanations about what wild animals are present in the area and how they are interacting with the other living and non-living parts of the forest ecosystem.

How will this affect services at Sassafras Café?

Sassafras will continue to operate as it does now, in its space in Ridgway Visitor Center, throughout 2020. Food and beverage services will be available throughout the duration of this project.

How will the project affect parking at the Garden?

Our front parking lot will be affected by construction. We will continue to offer parking at our remote parking lot and  will offer more shuttles to our remote parking lots. 

Will docents still offer tours?


Will trams be affected?

We will continue to run trams throughout the project. 

What will happen to the iconic Chihuly glass sculpture at the Ridgway Visitor Center entrance?

It will be rehung in the new Visitor Center.

What will happen to the orchid display in the Beaumont Room at the Ridgway Visitor Center?

It will be relocated.


Nature Buddies Letter and Picture Program (Grades 1–5)

boy writing outdoorsIn this nature-themed pen pal program, students will be paired with a Shaw Nature Reserve volunteer to share what they see outside of their window at home, near their school, or in their neighborhood. Students will write about or draw what they observe and send it to their Nature Buddy and their Nature Buddy will do the same. Program will be 4 weeks, but can be extended.

  • Group Size:  8 to 30 students
  • Fee: No fee
  • To Register: call (314) 577-9523 or email kbryan@mobot.org.

Storybooks and Nature (PreK–K)

Join us for short (10–15 minutes) nature lessons based on stories to learn about Missouri plants and animals. These programs will be recorded and the teacher will receive a link to the video.

  • Group Size: 8 to 30 students
  • Fee: No fee but registration required.
  • To Register: call (314) 577-9523 or email kbryan@mobot.org.