Tiny Trekkers

A Weekly Nature Program for Preschoolers

Tiny Trekkers is a weekly nature-based drop off program for ages 3 – 5. Preschoolers will explore our nearly 500 acres of preserve through hands-on experiences out in nature. We stomp through creeks, use nets to catch and observe insects, taste edible plants, and learn about the natural world!

Tiny Trekkers is a great complement to part time preschool programs, as preparation for entering preschool or kindergarten, or even as an addition to a PreK/K homeschool program. Children must be able to use the restrooms independently.

Sessions take place on Tuesdays, with the morning session running from 9 – 11 am, and the afternoon session from 1 – 3 pm.

Not ready for a drop off program? Join us for our parent/child nature class, Knee-High Naturalists!

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Our remaining sessions for the 2023/2024 school year include:

  • Curious Collectors: April 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th (no session on the 2nd) (FULL)
  • Stream Stomp: May 7th, 14th, 21st (no session on the 28th) (FULL)

Check out our themes for the upcoming 2024/2025 year:

  • Sensory Kitchen: September 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th
  • Creatures of the Night: October 1st, 8th, 15th, and 22nd (no session on the 29th)
  • Wonders of Weather: November 5th, 12th, 19th, and 26th
  • Adventures in Art: December 3rd and 10th (no sessions the remainder of the month)
  • Winter Slumber: January 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th
  • Hunters of the Sky: February 4th, 11th, 18th, and 25th
  • Prehistoric Pals: March 4th, 11th, 18th, and 25th
  • The Pond & Beyond: April 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th (no session on the 1st)
  • Bugs & Beasties: May 6th, 13th, and 20th (no session on the 27th)

Tiny Trekkers takes place weekly on Tuesdays. Our morning sessions run from 9 – 11 am, while our afternoon session runs from 1 – 3 pm. Each child may only register for one time slot – you cannot combine the morning and afternoon session. Tiny Trekkers meet 4x a month, except for December and May.

Many of our families stay with us for the entire school year, but registration is on a rolling basis from month to month. Spots are limited to maintain a safe ratio and a quality experience for our participants. 

Special Note on Program Fees: Rates are $55/month for TNI members and $65/month for non-members. There is no commitment — registration is month to month. December and May have pro-rated fees, as they have less than 4 sessions. The entire school year is $453.75 for TNI members, $536.25 for non-members. 

Registration opens on May 1st, 2024.

Registration opens on May 1st, 2024.

Daily Schedule

In warmer weather months, the entire session is spent outdoors. In cold weather, a minimum of 50% of the time is spent outdoors as weather allows and the other portion is spent in our indoor classroom. We go out rain, snow, or shine, and ask that all kids come prepared for the elements!

Morning Session

9 am: Drop Off, Welcome Activities, Gathering Circle

9:20 am: Topic – Focused Hike, Games, or Nature Exploration

10:10 am: Snack & Story

10:25 am: Art Activity or Science Experiment

10:40 am: Free Play at the Nature Explore Classroom

11 am: Pick Up

Afternoon Session

1 pm: Drop Off, Welcome Activities, Gathering Circle

1:20 pm: Topic – Focused Hike, Games, or Nature Exploration

2:10 pm: Snack & Story

2:25 pm: Art Activity or Science Experiment

2:40 pm: Free Play at the Nature Explore Classroom

3 pm: Pick Up

Program Staff

Our primary Tiny Trekkers staff include our Director of Education, Lauren Scull, and our Environmental Educator, Dave Schiber. Both hold years of experience in education and operate our education department throughout the year. Lauren and Dave opened our Tiny Trekkers program in 2022 and have watched the program flourish since then! All staff and volunteers are background checked.

Lauren holds a degree in Ecotourism & Adventure Travel and has numerous years of experience in education. Lauren started her environmental education career as an Interpretive Tour Guide at The Wilds in Cumberland, OH. She then served as an Educator and Assistant Camp Director at the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor, MI. Since then, she has served as an educator at several zoos, as well as a Junior Volunteer Coordinator and Educator at the Endangered Wolf Center. In addition to her experience in environmental and conservation education, she has previous experience with children as a substitute teacher, nanny, residential camp counselor, and preschool art & science teacher.

Lauren is a Certified Interpretive Guide with the National Association for Interpretation, as well as a WMA Wilderness First Responder. She has earned multiple environmental education certifications, including the Amphibian Foundation’s Master Herpetologist certification.

Dave received a degree in Elementary Education from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and has more than 25 years of experience in education.

From 1996-2004, he worked at the St. Louis Science Center in various roles, but mostly in gallery interpretation and management. He wrote and performed many of the live science demonstrations that are still being performed to this day. From 2004-2021, he was the middle school science teacher for Evangelical School in Godfrey, Illinois where he taught more than 400 students over his career. Some areas in which Dave has some expertise are curriculum development, program development, physics, chemistry, astronomy and earth science.

Dave loves working as an environmental educator and believes that the best way to take care of our planet is to help people to experience nature’s beauty and diversity firsthand. Hands-on interaction is always better!

A Peek at Our Program: