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"What a great experience! ONSC provides the chance to learn in the way that kids learn best, by doing. This experience has had a great impact in connecting science to the world around us"

-McNair teacher

"This trip to ONSC is something I'll never forget in the history of my lifetime"

-Asher, Janie Darr 5th grader 

School Programs


ONSC offers a unique, immersion-based approach to learning about nature and the natural sciences. Every year, approximately 3,000 students from public and private schools experience the beauty and unique biodiversity of the Ozarks' natural environment through our residential school program.


We provide authentic science learning experiences that are staffed by our talented team of teacher naturalists. Lessons and activities are correlated with national and state science learning standards which provide in-depth education in biology, ecology, geology, and social studies – all while students have fun hiking and experiencing nature.

The Setting


Our classroom is the 400 acre Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission Bear Hollow Natural Area. The area features eight miles of trails, bluff shelters, rock outcroppings, glades, a historic farmhouse and cabin, and beautiful vistas. Students also learn about water quality and conservation during lessons in and along the crystal clear waters of Bear Hollow Creek, which bisects the natural area.


ONSC is adjacent to the approximately 15,000 acre Arkansas Game and Fish Commission McIlroy-Madison County Wildlife Management Area. Our studies often take us to this public property to study forest ecology and to experience several waterfalls and creeks.

What do Students Learn?

ONSC now offers school programs for 4th through 8th grade, and our lessons meet NGSS and Arkansas state standards. 


During our guided hikes and night hikes (field exploration), students are guided along a trail by an ONSC Teacher Naturalist. The students are immersed in a variety of natural science topics including geology, water quality, life cycles, and much more.


Hikes include opportunities for discovery, investigation and reflection that help students understand the natural world.  Night hikes include topics such as astronomy, creatures of the night, geography, geology with rose quartz, nighttime pond, and science at night.


In addition to guided hikes, a visit to ONSC includes one or more classes and activities.

More Information

  • Learn more about ONSC programs at our School Program FAQ page

  • For a detailed list of classes, activities, and hike topics, visit our Teacher Page

  • For a detailed list of NGSS and State Standards that are met by ONSC's School Programs, visit our Standards Matrix

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