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The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission

What is the Nature on Wheels?

The Nature on Wheels (NOW) is a mobile natural science field station that brings environmental education to schools, libraries, senior centers, festivals, organizations and parks all over Montgomery County. We offer programs aligned with curriculum standards led by engaging naturalist educators. Programming focuses on community science, career exploration, and community service.

The NOW is a modified RV which offers:

  • a pop-out presentation stage
  • digital screens for displaying educational content, videos, slideshows, etc.
  • sound system
  • equipment for hands-on science in the field
  • benches
  • tables
  • pop-up tent
  • other educational resources available

What programs does the NOW offer?

The NOW offers:

  • Public programs including pop-up events and guided hikes. The NOW targets areas that don’t have a nature center nearby. See ActiveMontgomery.
  • Festivals and large events. The NOW can table at festivals by offering interactive activities walk-up style for all ages.
  • Private educational programs that can be booked by the hour. Programs are fun experiences for schools, libraries, senior center, businesses, or other organizations. See our program menu.

All programs can be tailored to suit the age and type of audience, from schools to scouts to libraries and senior centers.

Request a program using the NOW Request Form. Please request 4+ weeks in advance to allow time for scheduling, permits and staff coordination.

Pricing

Standard pricing is for outdoor programs offered at the vehicle. Programs often involve a short hike or field work activity nearby.

Indoor pricing is for stationary programs brought indoors for inclement weather or for sites that don’t have suitable outdoor natural space.

Festival pricing is for walk-up programs at festivals. Contact us if interested. Pricing will be published soon.

Fee Schedule

ItemStandardIndoor Festival
First hour$250$220TBD
Second hour$200$60TBD
Additional hours$100$60TBD
Idle hours$50$50TBD
To compare, typical field trip bus cost for MCPS$300n/aTBD

Program Menu

Note: Reserve the NOW using the NOW Request Form. You will need an ActiveMontgomery account email to complete the form. Requests must be received at least 4 weeks before your requested dates and depend on staff availability.

The Nature on Wheels facilitator will contact you after you submit your request to discuss the most appropriate accommodations for your location and your group.

Most programs are best suited to children of similar ages, but some programs can be tailored to accommodate a wide range of ages.

Amazing Adaptations

How do plants and animals adapt to their surroundings? We will use a variety of examples, games, and maybe some special ambassadors to help you learn about our neighbors. Program can be tailored for very young as well as older audiences. Year-round. Ages 3 to 100. Can be offered indoors.

Birding 101

We’ll teach you the basics of bird identification and then lead you on a birding hike on your site or at a park nearby. For a special treat we can meet at a conservation or stream valley park with the chance to see a greater diversity of birds. Year-round. All ages.

BioBlitz

A BioBlitz is a fast way to document the biodiversity in a specific area and contribute to a massive dataset to help scientific researchers! We offer a tutorial on iNaturalist or Seek by iNaturalist and then send you out to record your findings using your smartphone or camera. Our naturalists will help you make identifications, walk you through uploading observations and help you enjoy nature through the lens of science. STEM. Recommended February to November. Adults groups only at this time.

Community Science

Does your group have a hypothesis or research question? We will teach you how to conduct a field study unique to your site or a nearby park! The NOW can provide tools and training to help you practice natural resource sampling techniques like conducting surveys on transects, reading dichotomous identification keys, filling out field data sheets, and collecting and doing preliminary data analysis. Year-round. Ages 10 to 100.

Invertebrate Exploration

From the basics of what makes invertebrates unique to the important roles they play in our ecosystems, we’ll explore invertebrates in the world around us. Outdoors March to October, or indoors year-round. Ages 2 to 100.

Nativescapes

This program can focus on what native habitats need to support wildlife and a healthy ecosystem. Alternatively, we can also educate you on how to create and maintain beautiful and functional native gardens to restore native ecosystems. Ages 5 to 100. March to October.

Wonders of the Watershed

Where does water come from? Where does it go? What happens between the source and sink? Depending on the age of your group, we can explore age-appropriate concepts related to water behavior and watershed issues in our region. Year-round. Can be offered indoors. Ages 2 to 100.