For most teachers, securing funding for field trips is a challenge resulting in many great learning experiences. However, there are grant opportunities available to support field trips!


The Michigan Nature Association (MNA) offers a Nature Field Trip Grant to assist K-12 public and private educators desiring to take their students to qualified natural areas, such as select MNA nature sanctuaries, community nature centers, and other locations.


This grant will award $500 to selected grant recipients based on the quality of the application. MNA wants to help all students experience natural areas, but is especially interested in urban schools traveling to natural areas. This grant will cover bus transportation and educational supplies. This grant requires a final report once the field trip is complete.


If you are interested, please complete and submit the application by February 23, 2018. Funds, if awarded, will be dispersed by March 31. In addition, they offer grants for fall field trips during September.

Discovering PLACE is hosting a teacher professional development opportunity with Michigan Technical University to focus on Water Education!

Brian Doughty, Outdoor Science Investigation Field Trip Program Coordinator, will lead participants through a demonstration of the Flint Portal. During this session, participants will receive four activity kits to use with their students. Joan Chadde, the director of Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach will demonstrate how to successfully use these kits with your students. These kits will allow educators and their students to learn more about the Watershed, their drinking water, and the wastewater treatment process.



University of Michigan-Flint Northbank Center (432 N. Saginaw St. Flint, MI 48502)

Innovation Incubator (Suite 207 on the 2nd floor) Visit for driving directions


Monday, November 20, 2017

4PM – 8PM

If you have a laptop available to you, you may want to bring it to this session. Dinner will be provided. Registration is required to attend this event. Please click HERE for the online registration form. There will be a question and answer session after the presentations.

Discovering Place encourages our partners to engage in place based education around the entire region. Below is a link to an article about a class of Bendle High School students who visited UM-Flint’s campus to learn how they can contribute to the recovery efforts and better understand how it is affecting residents.

Read about Bendle High School students’ visit to UM-Flint to see how they can help with the water crisis.

On Nov. 19, one day before the first snow storm of the season, 33 students put on gloves and picked up shovels to begin work on a duck habitat behind Flint Southwestern High School.

The 7th through 12th graders, which included a group with special needs students, cleaned up trash and dug out grass to prepare the site for the upcoming spring. The 150’ x 20’ site, began as little more than a circle of overgrown grass but as Guy, an 11th grader, explained, the students dug holes so that snow would accumulate over the winter and be retained as water for the ducks next season. He said they wanted the ducks to have a permanent home.

cp dirt

photo: Lindsay Stoddard

Families of ducks have been nesting in the high school’s interior courtyard. Previously, the students created a habitat in the courtyard for the ducks but the space is too small to nest in so it led to problems. Linda Heck and Kim Hatfield are the two teachers which have been leading these place based education projects with their students. Ducks can have up to 12 chicks at a time and over the last few years, Kim and her mother have had to transport the ducks out of the courtyard to a nearby river, one family at a time.

Read More →

Jacquie Richardson has been teaching in the Flint Community Schools for 22 years but she has seen a change in her students since implementing place based education projects three years ago. Now, her students are more engaged than ever before and taking charge of their own education.

Richardson began working with a group of Freeman Elementary third and fourth graders three years ago. The students grew their own cucumbers in the classroom and made them into pickles.

The following year, energized by their previous success, the same group of students wanted to expand their project. Richardson said her students wanted to do more than just grow vegetables so they explored how to grow bigger and more unique produce in the classroom. They settled on growing microgreens. The students were able to sell their microgreens at the Flint Farmers’ Market, which had the added benefit of providing them with a lesson in economics. By the time, she taught a unit about economics later in the semester, she said her students already grasped all of the concepts because of their previous business experience.

This most recent year has been the most inspiring yet. Richardson partnered with Flint’s Stockton Center at Spring Grove and helped her students, who are currently in sixth grade, construct a community garden onsite. The octagon-shaped garden was themed and produced vegetables and herbs to make pizza including Roma tomatoes, oregano, thyme, green peppers and mild peppers. The students visit their garden four times a year and after reading about the loss of Monarch Butterflies decided they also wanted to built a butterfly garden at Stockton Center as well. When students visit the home, they spend the entire school day there, completing both their place based work and the regular daily curriculum assignments. She said students enjoy doing schoolwork on the porch and down by the creek. The partnership has also allowed for students to get history lessons from the building’s caretakers and she said some of the kids have become “mini-docents,” giving their own tours when they visit the property.

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Below are some online place-based education resources for teachers. These ideas are very low-to-no-cost and are meant to support curriculum you are already covering in class! These mini place-based education exercises introduce students to another learning environment that builds connections for them between what happens outside of the classroom and with in-class exercises.


Example 1: Journey North activities

Journey North is a free, Internet-based program that explores the interrelated aspects of seasonal change. For example, students discover that sunlight drives all living systems and they learn about the dynamic ecosystem that surrounds and connects them.

The site offers more than 40 activities and lesson plans for teachers to engage their students through place-based and traditional classroom settings. It also features live cams of exotic animals in their natural habitats and a free phone app for teachers to share data.

One great seasonal project is the Tulip Test Garden. This allows teachers to use the planting and growing cycles of spring to explore the changing seasons. Participants are encouraged to document their location and when the tulips emerge and bloom on Journey North’s website and compare results with other classes across the country. Visit for more information.

Read More →

Boys and Girls Club members have spent the last few weeks learning about environmental issues and careers in resource sciences through a DNR Summer Youth Employment Initiative with UM-Flint University Outreach.

The third week of the program included two site visits, one to the UM-Flint Urban Alternatives House (UAH) and another to the city of Flint master planning office downtown. Students were welcomed by four UM-Flint professors from the Earth and Resource Sciences department in the classroom space of the UAH on Eddy Street. The Leadership in Energy Efficient Design (LEED)- certified house was converted from a derelict house in the Central Park neighborhood, just east of campus.

Dr. Martin Kaufman told the Boys and Girls Club members about Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which is multi-layered mapping software. Kaufman said that GIS is one of 3 emerging technologies and career paths that will become very important in the next century.

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More than 25 young people from the Boys and Girls Club are spending a portion of their Summer learning about environmental issues and careers in resource sciences through UM-Flint’s University Outreach.

The group of 16 to 19 year olds is being paid through the DNR’s Summer Youth Employment Initiative to learn about issues, such as recycling and watershed quality, through a series of lectures, activities and field trips. These students are leaders at the local Boys and Girls Club and will share their knowledge and activities they learn with younger members.

One day a week, the group has been meeting on the university campus with University Outreach staff members, who lead the program.

In its first week, Program Coordinators Leyla Sankar and Sara McDonnell asked the students what they would like to learn about during their visits. The young people responded that they were interested in local recycling, the city of Flint’s current master planning process and a host of other issues.

Read More →

There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony June 4 for an outdoor classroom designed and built by Beecher ninth graders (class of 2016) last year. The outdoor space is located in a previously unused area between the Moses Lacy Field House and Beecher Administration Building on the Beecher 9GA campus, 1020 W. Coldwater Road in Mt. Morris.

M’Lis Bartlett, a University of Michigan doctoral candidate in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Justice, led the design process with students and allowed the entire class to vote on what the final space would look like. This process included teaching students Beecher history and allowing them to explore the natural environment around the school. The classroom space also acts as an alternative lunch space and gives students and families a place to relax before basketball games.

During summer 2013, Carrera, a summer job placement program, hired some of the ninth graders to help transform the concrete space into a landscaped classroom which includes benches and tables made from urban Ash tree lumber and recycled pieces of concrete.

This year’s ninth graders (class of 2017) planted flowers and vegetables in the space. A retractable awning and water catchment barrel have also been installed.

The program was funded by the Ruth Mott Foundation, a University of Michigan Arts of Citizenship grant, and the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative- Great Lakes Fishery Trust.

A reception and press conference will begin at 5 p.m. The ribbon cutting will take place at 5:45 p.m.