Elementary School Programs

An age-appropriate and scaffolded progression of programming is offered from pre-K through fifth grade at Pioneer Elementary, Sanchez Elementary, and Ryan Elementary and includes pre-K students at Boulder County Head Start. All students participate in In-school programming and field trips and students that are interested in expanding their connection to nature and outdoor recreation skills have the opportunity to opt into the After School Program.


Eco-Cycle – Presentations

One-hour presentations within the classroom designed to engage youth in understanding the importance of conserving natural resources through unique hands-on activities. Topics to be taught at each grade level are described in the above chart.

Eco-Cycle – Greenstar Schools

A zero-waste program for schools that includes education and the opportunity to engage in recycling and composting programs. This program offers an important service opportunity for younger youth who are not yet old enough to participate in outdoor service projects but have a desire to put into practice their developing conservation ethic, thereby building the foundation for future conservation actions.

Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation – Wildlife Education Programs

A hands-on, one-hour program designed to teach students about nearby wildlife and the tenants of wildlife stewardship and animal rehabilitation.

GROWE Foundation – Garden to Table

The program uses hands-on, inquiry-based instruction and on-site organic gardens to help students gain knowledge, practice academic and life skills and understand the relevance and application of healthy, sustainable living. All students participate in a one-hour program in the spring and the fall, enabling the entire school, together with support from neighborhood volunteers, to grow and sustain a healthy student garden. The program enriches student education while simultaneously addressing health and environmental problems affecting society and building community among teachers, parents, and the broader community.

Hawk Quest – Elementary In-school Raptor Program

A hands-on, one-hour program that uses live raptors to teach students about raptor ecology and help students build empathy towards other living things.

Keep it Clean Partnership – Rain Rain

A hands-on, one-hour program designed to teach youth that storm drains lead to creeks and how they can help keep their community’s water resources clean to support a healthy ecosystem.

Thorne Nature Experience – In-school Program

The In-School Program expands students’ knowledge in the areas of science and literacy through a three-class series of lessons that involve interactive explorations, inquiry-based experiments, scientific instruments and specimens, and writing a picture book. Topics to be taught at each grade level are described in the above chart.


The field trip program is designed to give every participating student exposure to natural environments from their backyard, to the backcountry, and including the prairie, forest, wetlands, foothills, and mountain environments. The progression of field trips begins with nearby nature and extends incrementally further from students’ home and school, eventually bringing students to Colorado’s high-alpine environments in fifth grade during a trip to the Keystone Science School. In addition to learning about nature and the environment, students are exposed to outdoor recreation during third grade and gardening and ranching during fifth grade via trips to St. Vrain State Park and the County Agricultural Center, respectively. During the early grade levels the field trips are short and close to home, eventually building up to overnight adventures in the mountains during fourth and fifth grade. Each field trip includes a take-away that the students can share with their family, often a picture of them in the place they visited, and that includes an invitation for family members to join NKJN on a future family program to visit the same environment and join their kids in expanding their knowledge about the nature within Colorado’s parks and open spaces and the recreational opportunities available within these special places.


The After school Program allows students interested in expanding their connection to nature and the outdoors to opt-in to additional hands-on experiences and field trips during grades one through five. The program will serve 48 youth per semester at each of the three participating elementary schools. Six different after school experiences are offered at each school, including a Nature and Outdoor Recreation Club that has a flexible student-driven curriculum, thereby ensuring that a student can participate in a new and unique after school experience every semester during first through fifth grade. Each after school experience occurs one day a week for two hours over the course of an entire spring or fall semester. After school experiences available at each grade level. All after school experiences have a substantial outdoor component with students spending the majority of time outside the classroom and in nature. A healthy after school snack and transportation home is provided for all participating students.

If you are interested in signing up your child for an after school experience, please reach out to your school’s front office and ask them about “Thorne’s After School Program.”


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