Nature Discovery Traveling Trunks

These traveling educational trunks help make natural history come alive for your classroom. Each trunk is filled with hands-on interdisciplinary and scientifically-accurate educational materials.

Trunks are available for one ($25), two ($35) or three week ($45) rentals (with the exception of the Insect Sweep Nets).  Most of our trunks can be shipped to communities outside of Missoula (some cannot, due to weight).  The renter is responsible for all shipping charges, or for picking up and dropping of the trunk if it is not being shipped.

To reserve a trunk, please call 406.327.0405 during our business hours:  Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, and Saturdays noon-4pm, or fill out our online form.

For more detailed information about what each trunk contains, take a look at our MNHC Trunk Guide.


This trunk is designed to explore how animals survive and adapt to winter.  Students can explore winter tracking, physical, and behavioral adaptations of common Montana mammals.  The trunk includes synthetic track molds, animal furs, a resource library, and more.  The materials are suitable for all grade levels but the curriculum is targeted for Grades 3-5.  Preview or print the Animals in Winter Curriculum Guide.


Featuring high quality research tools, this trunk provides everything you need to lead students through classroom and field trip-based investigations in the study of aquatic invertebrates.  The trunk features a curriculum guide with lab exercises, stream bottom sampling net, surber samplers for quantitative study, student sampling and identification kits and lots of background information to set up quality science inquiry activities. Grade Level: 7-12


This trunk includes a set of 15 Eagle Optics Kingbird 6.5×32 binoculars.

Each pair of binoculars has an adjustable neck strap.

Appropriate for all ages.


This trunk offers a glimpse into our local watershed. Take an imaginary journey using a hand-painted floor map and wooden figurines to tell the stories of historical characters whose lives were dependent on water. Curriculum and multimedia materials addressing watershed issues are included. Themes covered are the water cycle, water quality, bull trout, aquatic life, and human impacts. Grade level: 3-6


This trunk features everything you need to bring the wonders of ponds and wetlands to your students, including a great library of children’s books, field guides, animal track molds, a bat and muskrat specimen and collection jars and hand lenses for studying your aquatic discoveries.  The curriculum guide features lessons to accompany the materials. Grade level: preschool-4th grade. Preview or print the Exploring Wetlands Curriculum Guide, and watch the video below to see the materials included in this trunk!


Each of the 15 field kits in this trunk includes a thermometer, insect viewer, and hand lens inside a durable field bag. There is plenty of room for students to also carry journals, pencils, or art materials. This grab-and-go kit has what you need to get your group out into the field.  Appropriate for all ages.

*This trunk is free for Forest for Every Classroom graduate teachers though shipping costs may apply.


This trunk features some of our top choices for field guides on birds, plants, mammals, insects, geology, weather and more. The 14 guides will give you plenty of background information for classroom studies or can be used by students as references. Guides are appropriate for a range of ages.

*This trunk is free for Forest for Every Classroom graduate teachers though shipping costs may apply.


Hands-on learning about fire ecology. Themes include wildfire behavior, forest change, plant and animal adaptations to fire and management of wildland fire. Included is a curriculum guide, tree cookies, posters, games, puzzles, books, slide show, videos, and everything you need to experiment with fire (plus a fire extinguisher!). For more information, take a look at the fire lab’s website about the fireworks trunk.  Grade level: 1-9

*The FireWorks Trunk is contained in three separate trunks that must be checked out together.
*Cannot be shipped due to weight.

geology trunk contents


The Geology Trunk is designed for educators to use in the broadest ways possible. While there is no set curriculum, the trunk includes 12 sample boxes containing rocks, minerals, and fossils with information and question cards to guide instructions. The samples can be used alone to explore Montana  geology or they can be integrated into any geology and earth science curriculum for any age group.

*Cannot be shipped due to weight.


This trunk explores the dramatic Glacial Lake Missoula flood events through mapping, historical research, and hands-on learning. In addition, the curriculum features information on ice age mammals and the Missoula aquifer. Preview or print the Glacial Lake Missoula Curriculum Guide, and watch the video below to see the materials included in this trunk!

Grade level: 2-9


This trunk provides a set of 14 Garmin MAP 60 units for classroom or group use. The units come with preloaded maps and software and are easy to use. The trunk includes instruction guides, cables to connect the units to computers, and CDs with additional computer software to use with the units.


Air pollution in the inner-mountain west is the focus of this unit, empowering learners to protect our precious air quality. Hands-on activities integrate the subject areas of science, mathematics, health, social studies, and language arts. Includes an experiment trunk for creating miniature inversion layers, puppets, posters, books and a curriculum guide. Grade level: 3-5


The study of insects is a great way to bring hands-on science into the classroom.  The trunk features nearly all of the materials you’d need to lead your own insect investigations.  It includes field guides, insect collection and viewing tools, insect life cycle samples, curriculum materials, children’s books, life cycle magnets, and other materials to expand into art and discovery. Preview or print the Insect Investigations Curriculum Guide, and watch the video below to see the materials included in this trunk!


Sweep nets are a great way for kids and people of all ages and abilities to catch insects for study. Made of durable materials, sweep nets are used to “sweep” through tall grasses and plants. These are not traditional butterfly nets and are not recommended for that purpose though they will catch a diversity of terrestrial invertebrates! Set of 5.  *The Insect Sweep Nets are rented at $15 for one week’s rental, $25 for two weeks and $35 for three weeks. 


This exciting hands-on trunk consisting of a loon mount, costumes, puppets, books, posters, and more was created by Donna Love, author of Loons and member of the Montana Loon Society. Discover the legend of loons and their remarkable lives with this engaging trunk. Grade level: K-6


This trunk includes a class set of loupes, or hand lenses, a selection of rock and mineral samples, and a copy of The Private Eye curriculum: Looking and Thinking Through Analogy. The curriculum spans multiple grades with activities in all disciplines. *The Loupes are rented at $15 for one week’s rental, $25 for two weeks and $35 for three weeks. 


This trunk includes 12 classroom and field Brock Magiscopes.  These microscopes do not require batteries or electricity and with only one moving part, are perfect for use by kids and adults of all ages.  This model has a 5x eyepiece and a 4X objective lense, for 20x magnification.

Mining 3


This trunk brings geology, Montana history and the story of mining for minerals into the classroom with hands-on learning. Themes include: rocks and minerals, formation of rocks, history of mining and equipment, how minerals are found, why mining continues and what mined minerals are used for. The kit includes curriculum guides, examples of rocks and minerals, posters, examples of mining equipment and tools, examples of products made from mined minerals and everything you need to learn about mining in Montana. Grade level: 3-8

*Cannot be shipped, due to weight.


This trunk and curriculum offer a study of some of the amazing wildlife in Western Montana. Students become wildlife biologists to complete a creative research project about mammals of Western Montana. A wildlife camera, track replicas, skulls, animal stamps, binoculars, games, picture books, ready-to-use lessons, science experiment supplies, and much more await your use!  Grade level: 3-5

*The Montana Wildlife Trunk is contained in two separate trunks that must be checked out together. 


Through three different sections, this resource describes the traditional lifestyle of the Nez Perce, offers hands-on lessons to provide students with an opportunity to explore what the life of a United States soldier may have been like in this time period, and allows students to explore the war the Nez Perce leaders’ decision resulted in and what ultimately happened to the Nez Perce. The trunk includes traditional Nez Perce crafts, games and stories, as well as some military clothing, and gear.  There are also two videos that give two different views of the 1877 war and flight of the Nez Perce.  Grade level: 4-5

*NEW! This rental comes with a free live virtual lesson! Please contact Kelli Van Noppen at kvannoppen [at] montananaturalist [dot] org to schedule.

There is no rental fee for this trunk. The trunk is available for one, two or three weeks. The borrowing institution is responsible for return shipping charges or for picking up and dropping off the trunk if it is not being shipped.

pollinator garden trunk contents


This free resource includes information and educational materials for schools or groups interested in starting, or improving, their pollinator garden. included is a guide of suggested garden activities for students, resource books, additional curriculum guides, pollinator puppets, and information from western Montana organizations that support native plant and pollinator gardens.

There is no rental fee for this trunk. The trunk is available for one, two or three weeks. The borrowing institution is responsible for shipping charges where applicable.


Lying in the shadow of the Rockies, the prairies comprise nearly one third of the continent. Discover this unique ecosystem and the many creatures that depend on the grassland habitats. The trunk contains pelts, skulls, curriculum materials, books, videos, and prints. Grade level: K-12


The Raptors of the Rockies Traveling Trunk is an excellent resource for teaching students about Montana’s birds of prey.  The trunk contains 10 raptor mounts encased in Plexiglass, plus bird parts such as feathers, wings, feet and an owl skull. Also included are Species Accounts and Range Maps of the 31 raptors of Montana, a glossary and sheets on silhouettes, taxonomy and topography.  Because the trunk contains protected bird specimens, it must remain within the state of Montana. Grade Level:  3-8. Watch the video below to see the materials included in this trunk!

Recycle Montana trunk contents


Created by Recycle Montana, this education trunk can teach people of all ages about recycling. The trunk includes a curriculum guide, lots of examples of recyclable material, books, and other hands-on learning resources.


Explore the natural history of migratory birds with this award-winning trunk! Learn about their life in Mexico and Montana, and find out about the increasing problems they face in their summer and winter homes. Help students appreciate songbirds and learn how to help insure that their songs always herald spring in the Rockies. The trunk includes a curriculum guide, songbird specimens, books, puppets, tapes, videos, and a felt storyboard. Grade level: K-6


Learn about the biology and ecology of wolves.  Explore skulls, wolf pack behavior, predator-prey relationships, and research. The trunk includes a curriculum guide, a variety of skulls, fur from a wolf and coyote, fur samples from common wolf prey, a wolf body posture puppet, a variety of animal tracks, a radio collar, books, and more. Grade level: K-6. Preview or Print the Wolf Trunk Curriculum Guide.