Sonoma County Office of Education

Field Trips: Wildlife

California Academy of Sciences
The Academy's mission is to explore, explain, and protect the natural world and they offer a wide range of teacher and student resources. Access this site to plan a field trip (including a visit to the Academy's Koret-Taube Education Center), check out new standards-based resources, browse a growing catalog of teacher classes and workshops, obtain materials for the classroom, or connect and share ideas with other educators.

Lake Sonoma Recreation Area
Attractions at the Lake Sonoma Recreation Area include a fish hatchery, visitor center, trails and nature hikes, group picnic area, and the Lake itself, created by the Warm Springs Dam/Lake Sonoma project. Visitors to the Fish Hatchery observe hatchery operation and view displays describing the life cycle of the coho salmon, steelhead, and chinook. The hatchery, operated by the California Department of Fish and Game, helps to replace and enhance salmon and steelhead spawning grounds. In the spring, classes involved in the Steelhead in the Classroom program come here to release their salmon. Exhibits in the adjacent Visitor Center tell the story of Warm Springs Dam, explain the natural and early history of Dry Creek Valley, and explore the culture of the Pomo tribes that originally inhabited the valley. Ranger-led programs are available or groups can arrange special tours. The Fish Hatchery, Visitor Center, and a group picnic area are located at the park entrance.

Oakland Zoo: Teachers and Kids
There are many ways for preK-12 school groups to enjoy the Oakland Zoo. School groups can arrange for docent-led tours at the zoo or visit on special Station Days, when docents are available at stations throughout the zoo and groups are self-guided. Zoo School offers classroom programs for all grade levels at the zoo’s education center. Programs vary in length from 1 1/2 to 5 hours. There are different programs for each grade level including high school topics that explore zoo careers, veterinary medicine, and zoo animal biology. The Bedtime with the Beasts overnight program includes an evening tour, special activities, animal close-ups, and a morning visit to the animal care room. Groups can stay overnight at the zoo, camping outside in tents, or inside on the floor of the auditorium. Three-hour educator workshops are available on six different topics. Classes for six or more educators are developed as requested.

Petaluma Wildlife Museum
The museum started as a place to house a million dollar taxidermy collection donated to Petaluma High School by a local trophy hunter. Since then, the collection, and the idea of a student-run museum, has grown. Although largely run by Petaluma High School students, the museum is professional enough to have been featured recently on Bay Area Backroads! There are several rooms of animal specimens, displays, and even live animals. Star attractions include a stuffed elephant complete with tusks, a live 14-foot burmese python, a fossil dig, a tide pool, and a Tesla coil. The museum is hands-on and kid-oriented. This is a fascinating, low cost, local field trip that also supports and encourages the efforts of local high school students.

Point Blue (formerly Point Reyes Bird Observatory)
Point Blue is dedicated to conserving birds, other wildlife, and their ecosystems through scientific research and public outreach. K-12 education opportunities let students and teachers learn the role of science in bird and habitat conservation, explore what it is like to be a field biologist, and participate in mist-netting and bird banding demonstrations.

Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary
Education programs at the Audubon Center let students explore a variety of natural habitats including a pond, grasslands, a songbird thicket, the bayshore, and woodlands. Two hour field trips target specific topics for different grade levels from preschool to eighth grade. A bayshore studies program focusing on local watershed ecology is available for upper elementary grades.

Safari West: Educational Programs
Safari West, located between Santa Rosa and Calistoga, is dedicated to wildlife preservation through breeding, education, research, and public interaction. More than 400 mammals and birds roam the hundreds of acres of open land at the preserve, including zebras, giraffes, cheetahs, antelope, gorillas, and many other animals. Tours for school groups discuss animal conservation and wildlife behavior. School groups can take a 90-minute walking tour, or get a group discount on a 2 1/2 hour jeep tour. Tours are led by trained naturalists and can be customized to fit the needs of a school, class, or educational group. Each month, an afternoon orientation is provided to prepare teachers who are bringing their classes to Safari West. Other educator workshops are available including an overnight workshop that focuses on integrating environmental science issues into an interdisciplinary curriculum and offers continuing education units through Sonoma State.

Sonoma Marin Mosquito and Vector Control District
Educators from Mosquito and Vector Control offer 45-minute classroom presentations on mosquitoes and other local pests for students in grades K-8. The district also supplies kits with an adult emergence cage, 10X magnifier, vials with mosquito egg rafts, mosquito fish, and a container of live mosquito larvae to be left with the class for seven days so that students can observe the emergence of adult mosquitoes from larvae. An accompanying study guide includes other lessons and activities.