The Virtual Naturalist in the Schools program brings professional naturalists into 3rd through 5th grade classrooms to teach science and the natural history across rural Montana. In this unique program, naturalists work with students once a month throughout the school year providing the opportunity to develop a strong mentor relationship.
Every month of the school year we visit your school, remotely from our base in Missoula, to explore the grounds, conduct experiments, examine natural history specimens from bird wings to mammal skulls, and use microscopes to dissect and examine plants, among other things.
The unique structure of the program, the wealth of quality tools, and the top-notch instructors helps Virtual Naturalist in the Schools meet its goal of engaging and encouraging students’ innate curiosity about the natural world.
The Virtual Naturalist in the Schools program supports the 3rd-5th grade science curriculum and NGSS through the study and exploration of natural history. Students each receive a journal to record observations and scientific illustrations. Through the unique design of the program, MNHC directly provides each student with 12 hours of inquiry-based science instruction during the school year.
Naturalist instructors include Montana Natural History Center staff members and seasonal teaching staff. All naturalist instructors have completed undergraduate study in a related topic and many of them have completed graduate degrees. Instructors begin the program with prior teaching experience and a wealth of natural history knowledge and training.
The growing Virtual Naturalist in the Schools program is currently reaching ten schools across the state, working with more than 200 students. These schools are all over the state, from Sydney to Hot Springs.
Want to learn more? Watch our Virtual Naturalist in the Schools video!
Read what teachers and students are saying about the Virtual Naturalist in the Schools Program!
“Having this fresh face come into my room with such enthusiasm and help do quality lessons from which I could run on for days with back-up lessons was our favorite part of the Virtual Naturalist program.”
“The content in this program expanded what we learn in the classroom, and it was a fantastic experience for my students to learn using technology!”
“I love this program, the instructor, the content, the technology, and look forward to using it again next year!”
“This program was such a joy and the kids would ask at the beginning of each month when we get to see Miss Amy again!”
“The best part of this program was watching the kids and their enjoyment and how much they got out of the lesson.”
“The kids were so much more ready for conversations about these topics because of some of the things that you’ve talked about during our sessions.”