VA School Programs

Nature-based learning for schools in Virginia

Environmental science programs with ANS are designed to meet Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Virginia Standards of Learning as well as Virginia Naturally Green School certification components. We have many programs that support project-based learning (PBL) and help meet One to the World Initiatives. Lessons highlight human impacts, ecological systems, and watersheds through hands-on activities both in the classroom and at our beautiful 68-acre Rust Sanctuary in Leesburg.

We also offer free programs for LCPS schools. Our award-winning GreenKids program is free to LCPS schools interested in becoming certified Virginia Naturally Green Schools, and our Rust Watershed Adventures program is free for schools interested in conducting watershed-based PBL projects. See GreenKids tab above for more information.
Space in these programs is limited as funding allows.

Choose between Field Trips to Rust Nature Sanctuary or bringing a Naturalist to your classroom!

Elementary School

Visit our 68-acre sanctuary right by Route 7,
802 Children’s Center Rd, Leesburg, VA

Discovery Hunt

On a nature walk full of sensory exploration, students will look under logs, listen for birds and touch tree bark as they explore local biodiversity and observe creatures in their natural habitats.

Life Cycles

Students will investigate the seasonal life cycles of animals and insects on the sanctuary.


Students will explore our forest, meadow and pond ecosystems while learning about the adaptations that allow various creatures to survive in these habitats. This field trip can be conducted on your school grounds as well.

Compost and Decomposers

Students will dig through soil and compost to examine insects, worms and other amazing decomposers while exploring the energy cycle of decomposition, regeneration, and growth.

Water Science Exploration

Students will analyze the health of a stream or pond by testing water hemistry and searching for benthic macroinvertebrates. They will use our Creek Critters App and collected data to gauge the health of this habitat. This field trip can be conducted at the Rust Sanctuary pond or a stream or pond within walking distance of your school.

Lessons are Hands on STEM activities that tie directly to the Virginia Standards of Learning. Programs support Project Based Learning. ANS partners with the LCPS and FCPS Science Departments. Programs can be adapted for K-5 classes.

Elementary School

Save on travel fees by inviting one of
our naturalists to your school.

Wonderful Worms

Students will sift through soil to find their own worms and learn about the role of decomposers in an ecosystem.


Students will get hands-on experience making their own recycled paper from old newspaper and learn strategies for reducing waste at school and at home.

Green Cleaners

Students will learn to make eco-friendly cleaners as they learn about the dangers of pollution from chemicals in most cleaning products.


Students will investigate the "science of garbage" in this look at what your school throws away every day.


Students will use a watershed model to examine human impacts on water quality and learn how we affect the Chesapeake Bay.

Erosion in a Bottle

Students will learn about the impact erosion has on our water systems and what can be done to prevent runoff.

Skull & Scat Sleuths

Students will look for animal signs around the schoolyard and learn to recognize physical and behavioral adaptations of animals.

Watt's Up

Students will conduct a classroom energy audit to identify ways to increase energy efficiency at school and at home.

We All Live Downstream

Students will learn about different types of pollution sources and discuss ideas to address pollution.

Birds of a Feather

Students will hike the grounds at school and identify native birds and explore lifecycles, behavior, anatomy and seasonal adaptations. They will also learn how to increase habitat biodiversity at your school.

Don’t see a field trip or in-class program that meets your curricular requirements?
Want to incorporate a stewardship activity into your program?

We would be happy to create a program that is tailored to your needs!

Please contact for details