Olympia Waterfront Tour

The Waterfront Tour offers students an opportunity to learn about Puget Sound – right here in our own backyard!  The tour begins at Port Plaza where students rotate through 3 stations: 1) Water Quality Equipment and Sampling; 2) Plankton and Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring; and 3) Tower Trivia!  Students then proceed on a shoreline tour that covers topics such as King tides and sea level rise, Budd Inlet history, the Lake/Estuary debate, and a presentation on New Zealand mud snails at Capitol Lake led by a Washington Invasive Species Council staff member or WDFW biologist.

2-hr field trip designed for grades 5-8

4-hr field trip option available for 6th grade students in partnership with the LOTT Clean Water Alliance.

Pacific Shellfish Institute

Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail

The Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail is the south Sound’s premiere salmon viewing experience. It is only open for the month of November, because that is when the chum salmon return from the ocean!

Schedule a visit for your class or interest group, and get a rich Pacific Northwest experience. Groups are lead by trained volunteer docents that cover a wide range of salmon and ecological topics including life cycle, spawning behaviors, survival rates, predator/prey relationships, forestry and human influences. Available for all ages!

Visit our website for more information, to schedule a field trip, or become a docent.

South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group
Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail Coordinator
Jerilyn Walley
(360) 412-0808 ext. 107

Beach Exploration

Explore the beach intertidal zone and discover some of the critters and the amazing ways they survive in a variety of habitats there! Available on low tide days in the Fall and Spring.  South Sound Estuary Association (SSEA) staff will meet you at Burfoot County Park, Tolmie State Park, or you may suggest one you have access to. Let us know what your goals and curriculum needs are, and we’ll discuss with you how to integrate them into a 1.5 hour session on the beach. Pre and post visits to your location or classroom are available as well.

Available to K-12 grade.

Wendy Eklund
South Sound Estuary Association (SSEA)


Nisqually Reach Nature Center – Education

Nisqually Reach Nature Center provides:

  • Field trip opportunities
  • Supplemental classroom activities
  • and Summer camps

Aimed at sharing the beauty and uniqueness of the Nisqually Estuary and learning the values of conservation, particularly with regard to South Puget Sound. The Nature Center contains study mounts of local birds and mammals, four tidally active salt water aquariums with over 50 species of local marine fauna, and equipment for use. The equipment includes binoculars, spotting scopes, Quadrates, Seine net, compound microscopes, and dissecting microscopes. Outdoor classes can study estuarine ecology through beach quadrate studies, beach seining, plankton tows and more.

Classes may visit any time with advance arrangement. Appropriate for all ages.

Nisqually Reach Nature Center

Nature Center Website

Nature Center Facebook



Fecal Bacteria in Henderson Inlet – Dooing Something about it!

This program introduces students to fecal bacteria: What are they? Where do they come from? How do they make their way into lakes and Puget Sound? Then, students walk to a nearby park where they use Field Investigation Notebooks to map and label their survey site, flag pet waste piles, record data, reflect on findings, and create an action plan. After the survey, an Engineering Technician will talk with students about storm drains, open a catch basin and collect a stormwater sample. If time permits, students will test the sample for fecal bacteria by filtering stormwater onto petri dishes that incubate overnight. Students will be asked to send pet waste survey results to Thurston County Environmental Health.  Field Investigation Notebooks and curriculum are downloadable on PSI’s website and available as a loanable kit.

Designed for 3-8 grade students.

Pacific Shellfish Institute

Olympian Story – CSI at Lacey Elementary

Get Outside Olympia

Perri Rae Davis, founder and program director of Get Outside Olympia, has a mission to make nature in Olympia, WA easily accessible for youth in her community. With a passion for working outdoors and over a decade of working with youth, she created Olympia Youth Explorers and Natural Young Leaders Club. These two programs utilize local parks, environmental community organizations, and focus on practicing core routines that foster habits and behaviors that increase observation, curiosity, and connection with the natural world!

Perri Rae Davis

Director of Get Outside Olympia



Thurston County Stream Team

If you enjoy rushing streams, clean air, the smell of rich soil on your hands and the camaraderie of other people who like to make a difference, then get involved with Stream Team!

Stream Team offers a fun and rewarding way to protect and improve local streams, rivers and Puget Sound. Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds can get involved. Love the outdoors? Join us at tree plantings or stream-bug monitoring sessions. Are you a bird watcher? Build a bird nest box, attend a shorebird field trip or help monitor purple martin nest boxes. If you enjoy talking with other people, you might want to become a Salmon Steward. Or perhaps you’d just like to attend workshops and learn more about what you can do to protect our water resources. Stream Team welcomes any level of involvement you choose to take.

Stream Team events are free and open to everyone. You can participate individually, or bring your family, friends or members of your community group.

Stream Team Website
Facebook Page


In Lacey Contact:
Emily Watts
ewatts@ci.lacey.wa.us or (360) 438-2687


In Olympia Contact:
Michelle Stevie
mstevie@ci.olympia.wa.us or (360) 753-8336


In Tumwater Contact:
Meridith Greer
mgreer@ci.tumwater.wa.us or (360) 754-4148


In Thurston County Contact:
Anne Marie Pearce
pearcea@co.thurston.wa.us or (360)754-3355 ext. 6857

Beach Jobs! Managing Tasty Clams

How do the tribes, research scientists and resource managers conduct shellfish population surveys? Why are they important and who is involved? Turn the classroom into a tideland as we act out the players, identify shellfish species, survey the beach, crunch population numbers, and divvy up our tasty harvestable catch (Swedish Fish).

60 minutes in the classroom or as a field trip.

Designed for grades 6-12.

Pacific Shellfish Institute

Mount Rainier Institute

In partnership with Mount Rainier National Park, University of Washington created the Mount Rainier Institute. Located at Pack Forest, Mount Rainier Institute is a residential environmental learning center that uses the natural and cultural resources of Mount Rainier National Park and Pack Forest to achieve its mission. Mount Rainier Institute provides schools in our region with in-depth, multi-day programs focusing on science/STEM education. Mount Rainier Institute also helps connect students and teachers to Mount Rainier National park, and uses the park and Pack Forest as its “classroom.” We partner with schools to provide experiences that enhance curriculum, enrich science, and build community.

School Programs
Mount Rainier Institute provides outstanding nature-based education experiences that are rooted in science and nurture the next generation of environmental stewards and leaders. In partnership with the National Park Service, Mount Rainier Institute uses the natural and cultural resources of Mount Rainier National Park and University of Washington’s Pack Forest to help students learn and to develop their relationship with the environment through an educational adventure they will remember for a lifetime. Mount Rainier Institute programs provide a mix between interdisciplinary content with science process skills such as observation, inquiry, analysis, and supporting claims with evidence. Mount Rainier Institute educators will work with teachers to better integrate the Mount Rainier Institute experience into their classroom curriculum.

Programs are 4 days and 3 nights (Monday-Thursday), or 3 days and 2 nights (Monday-Wednesday & Wednesday-Friday). 4-day programs are given scheduling priority. 5-day and 1-day programs will be considered based on availability.

Fall season begins mid-September through mid-November. Spring season begins mid-March through mid-June.

Programs can be tailored to meet the needs of upper elementary, middle school, and high school.


John Hayes


(253) 692-4161


Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge – Education Programs

Each year approximately 5,000 students, teachers, and group leaders visit the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). The Refuge offers an invaluable opportunity for students to experience and learn about the natural world.  Are your students studying habitats, watersheds, birds, wildlife, estuaries, or wetlands? Then the Refuge is a great place to enhance your curriculum!

Educational resources include the Environmental Education Center where we conduct opening and closing sessions and a variety of age appropriate indoor lessons based on your course of study; four miles of trails, including the one-mile long Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail; teacher training and resources; and field trip planning assistance that will help you to create a field trip experience that fits your curriculum goals. Field trips to the Refuge are great any time of year and are appropriate for pre-k through adults. Advanced reservations are required.

Visit the Education Page for more information on:

  • Field Trip Reservation Form
  • Field Trip Orientation
  • Elementary School Groups
  • Junior High and High School Groups
  • College Groups
  • Resources for Teachers
  • Educator’s Guide
  • FAQs


Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
100 Brown Farm Rd, Olympia, WA 98516
Education Coordinator
(360) 753-9467

Nisqually NWR Education Page

Puget Sound Estuarium – Education Programs

The South Sound Estuary Association’s (SSEA) Estuarium is a marine life discovery center featuring aquariums, interactive activities, and interpretive exhibits. It’s a great place to visit for all ages. Our education team works with groups to design an exciting private visit to the Estuarium or even to your classroom by special appointment. Groups have included families, preschool, childcare, school, boy/girl scouts, boys and girls clubs, families and seniors. To request and schedule a group visit, complete the Estuarium Group Request form on our website.

Our Exhibits:

  • Aquariums featuring an amazing diversity of animals from intertidal, subtidal environments in South Puget Sound.
  • Preserved specimens from the depths of Puget Sound.
  • Video Programming features an exciting array of short videos from local organizations and projects.
  • Hands on Exhibits include the “Web of Life”, microscopes, coloring, puzzles, and aquarium activities. While not ideal for very young children, hands on activities at the Estuarium are great for school age children.
  • Interpretive Exhibits are highly educational on a variety of subjects relating to South Puget Sound ecology, geology, restoration, and recreation.
  • The Community Billboard connects visitors to upcoming opportunities beyond the Estuarium to enjoy and protect Puget Sound.


309 State Ave. NE
Olympia, WA 98501
(360) 915-0773


Eutrophi…what? Nutrients and Phytoplankton in South Puget Sound

Eutrophication has been identified as one of the most serious threats to coastal environments worldwide.  Learn how this process impacts Budd Inlet and what steps you can take to reduce nutrient inputs into lakes and Puget Sound. Activities include acting out the process of eutrophication, viewing live plankton under a microscope, identifying harmful algal bloom species, performing a mussel filtration demonstration, handling water quality monitoring equipment, and learning about local efforts to address nutrient pollution in Puget Sound.

50-60 minutes in the classroom.

Designed and adapted for grades 4-9.

Pacific Shellfish Institute

Puget Sound Shellfish – Keeping It Clean

This program will introduce students to shellfish as a keystone species in maintaining healthy estuaries and as an important indicator of water quality. Identify South Puget Sound bivalves, view live plankton under microscopes, feed mussels a plankton smoothie, and discover how the 3 “P”s – poop, pH, and plastics – can impact the environment! Become empowered as we highlight every day actions you can take to protect and enjoy Puget Sound.

Can be adapted to any age level. 50-60 minutes in length.

Pacific Shellfish Institute

Taylor Shellfish Farms – Education Programs

Shellfish farming has a long history in Puget Sound; in Washington it pre-dates statehood. Learn how shellfish are farmed in Puget Sound, and what happens to them once they are harvested. Field trips and tours can take place at the main headquarters/processing plant in Shelton, shellfish hatchery in Quilcene (Hood Canal), or a variety of farms throughout South Puget Sound.

Tours are customized based on the needs of different groups and can include topics such as: biology, history, environment, economy, water quality, current events, culinary uses, habitat, etc. Programs can be adapted to any grade level. 

Taylor Shellfish is a 5th generation family company based out of Shelton, WA with farms throughout the state. Shellfish produced in Puget Sound include manila clams, a variety of oyster species, geoduck and mussels. Tours, field trips and classroom visits are available free of charge on a first come, first served basis.

Jennifer Whipple
(360) 481-2417


Garden of the Salish Sea

Looking for a way to dive deeper into Puget Sound issues? This program, centered around hands-on learning through classroom labs and local field experiences, uses shellfish as a vehicle to teach pollution prevention. The curriculum is offered as a 4-week course (1-2 hours per week), which includes an overview of shellfish and water quality, interactive hands-on laboratory, field experience, and post field trip reflection. During the month, teachers may supplement the curriculum through additional games, readings and art. Students are empowered to take actions to minimize pollution by taking the Salish Sea Challenge.

For more information, click on www.gardensalishsea.org.

60-120 minutes per week over a 4-week period. Adaptable as needed.

Designed for students in grades 4-8.

Pacific Shellfish Institute

Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge – Education Programs

Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge provides recreation opportunities to thousands of visitors every year. Shorebirds migrating from as far south as Argentina stop to rest and feed in Grays Harbor Estuary every spring. The estuary’s open mudflats provide ample food for the migrants and great wildlife viewing opportunities for the public. Whether birding, practicing photography, or participating in educational programs, visitors enjoy viewing the unique ecosystems and diverse wildlife. Regulation of recreation activities allows for public enjoyment of the refuge while still protecting the wildlife and habitats. Each spring, the annual Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival offers field trips, shorebird viewing, lectures, Fun Fair, poster contest, and more.

The mission of Grays Harbor NWR education program is to work collaboratively with local schools, the community and other educational groups to teach the value of our local ecosystems to students, both young and old.

Visit the Grays Harbor NWR Education Page for more information on:

  • Classroom Presentations
  • Field Trips
  • Education Guide
  • Teacher Training
  • Shorebird Festival Poster Contest

Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge

1131 Airport Way, Hoquiam, WA 98550

100 Brown Farm Road, Olympia, WA 98516 (mailing address)

(360) 753-9467

Nisqually NWR Website
Education Page
Shorebird Festival Website
Facebook – Shorebird Festival


OlyWATER Schools Program

The OlyWAter Schools Program provides free classroom presentations to 4th and 5th students in the Olympia School District. The OlyWAter Schools Program activities focus on connecting students with a sense of place and stewardship through science exploration, creative arts, and field trips.

Each grade has a classroom presentation and related field trip that compliments the Water and Land Formations FOSS science units and EALRs from the Science Standards, as well as other activities and field trips.

For more information on our activities and field trips see our website.


Andy Haub

(360) 753-8475


Schools Program Website

Hands On Children’s Museum – School Programs

The Hands On Children’s Museum stimulates curiosity, creativity and learning through fun, interactive exhibits and programs for children, families and school groups. Our programs provide a unique combination of interactive learning experiences, expressive materials and dramatic play that is unparalleled in our community. Students will create, explore and discover in the rich Museum learning environment.

We offer:

Top reasons to choose a Hands On Field Trip:

  • Hands On is consistently voted “Best Place to Take Kids” in South Puget Sound.
  • Our interactive exhibits make learning exciting, engaging and fun!
  • Our Field Trip Workshops support State Learning Standards including Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs), Core Content, Content Standards, and FOSS Science Curriculum.
  • Our Arts & Parts Studio gives every student an opportunity to take home a unique work of art.
  • Hands On 2U brings the Museum Field Trip Experience to your school or organization.
  • At the Hands On Children’s Museum, we believe that students learn through experiences as well as experiments.


Reservations Coordinator
(360) 956-0818  ext 103

Education Page

The Nisqually River Education Project

Nisqually River Education Project offers hands-on environmental service-learning to students grades 4-12. Schools in Thurston County, North Thurston Public Schools, Wa He Lut Indian School, and Yelm Community Schools may be eligible for participation.

We offer:

  • Bi-annual water quality monitoring field trips.
  • Eye on Nature field trips to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Habitat restoration work-revegetation, invasive species removal, salmon carcass tossing, etc.
  • Annual Student Congress with 400 students from 40+ schools around South Puget Sound to analyze watershed health and learn new skills.
  • Annual Summer Teachers Institute with clock hours, stipends, curriculum resources and networking with community professionals.
  • Logistical support for community service and education outreach projects.
  • Ongoing teacher training and resource sharing.
  • Funding for field trips and water quality monitoring equipment.


Sheila Wilson
360-561 0203

Facebook Page

Walk N Roll Program

Intercity Transit’s Walk N Roll program works with schools and community partners to offer activities that educate and encourage youth to walk, bike, and take the bus. The Walk N Roll program hopes to create a healthier, safer, and more active community.

Walk N Roll offers a variety of educational and outreach activities:

  • Walk N Roll to School Days encourage youth and their families to walk or bike to school. The Walk N Roll program provides schools with the tools and coordination to make their events successful.
  • The School Bike Challenge is part of the Thurston County Bicycle Commuter Challenge. The Walk N Roll program helps schools organize a two week long bike challenge during the month of May. Students log their miles to win prizes. 
  • Pace Car Pledge asks drivers to commit to making roads safer for biking and walking by driving the speed limit, avoiding distractions, being cautious around kids, stopping for pedestrians, and sharing the road with bikes.
  • Rolling Classroom field trips provide school groups the chance to ride an Intercity Transit bus, tour the maintenance facility, and ride through the bus wash. Classroom presentations are also provided to prepare students for their bus riding experience.
  • Kidical Mass family bike rides provide an opportunity for youth and their families to practice biking on low-traffic roads. Rides include fun activities and family-friendly destinations. 
  • Earn-a-Bike classes teach middle school students basic mechanical and bicycle safety skills in the classroom and on the road. Students in need receive a bike refurbished by volunteers upon completion of the class.
  • The Walk N Roll Bike Shop is a volunteer staffed facility where donated and reclaimed bikes are refurbished. Completed bikes are given to youth participating in Walk N Roll activities.


Walk N Roll

Ocean Plastics – Matter Out of Place

Recently updated to support the Properties of Matter middle school science standards, this lesson focuses on the history, chemical composition and structure of plastics; origin, transport and destination of ocean plastics; impacts on the environment; solutions and stewardship.  Hands-on labs include a Sink/Float Plastic Density Investigation and Albatross Bolus Dissection.  Students enrich their learning by participating in a debris cleanup at a school campus or nearby park.  Debris collected is recorded on International Coastal Cleanup data forms and submitted to Puget Soundkeeper Alliance.  Teachers may also request Beach Sweeper Field Notebooks which allow students to map their site, ask investigative questions, collect data, reflect on findings and create an action plan.

50-60 minutes in the classroom, 50-60 minutes in the field
Designed for grades 6-9, but adaptable to all ages.

Pacific Shellfish Institute

South Sound GREEN

South Sound GREEN (Global Rivers Environmental Education Network) has over 20 years experience providing comprehensive watershed education for teachers and students. The program works with grades 4-12 in the Olympia, North Thurston, Tumwater, Griffin, and Rainier school districts, as well as students in private schools, home schools, and local colleges and universities.

Taking an interdisciplinary approach, students monitor water quality and benthic macroinvertebrates while learning about historical and current land use to evaluate the health of their watershed. Students conduct action projects, including invasive species removal, native planting projects, and more. Students chosen as delegates take their findings to the annual Student GREEN Congress.

South Sound GREEN provides field trips to local South Puget Sound shorelines for participating students to explore marine creatures, food webs, habitats, and how humans impact water quality and local industries such as shellfish farming. Participating teachers receive water quality testing supplies, field trip funding, and ongoing support in integrating watershed education into their curriculum.  We offer teacher professional development through our annual Summer Institute for Teachers in late June, and ongoing climate science education throughout the school year.

Stephanie Bishop
Program Coordinator
360-754-3588 ext. 108

WET Science Center

The WET (Water Education & Technology) Science Center in Olympia, WA is a fun, hands-on place to learn all about water – our most precious resource. It’s always free to visit and features interactive exhibits, weekend family activities, tours, and school programs. School programs are for 5th grade students and older.

Interactive exhibits
There are a variety of games and activities for all ages, although most are designed for older children ages 10 and up, as well as adults. An optional scavenger hunt guides visitors through eight stations of exploration and earns you a prize. Exhibits and interactive video games include information about:

  • The natural and built water cycle, water use, and water conservation.
  • Wastewater treatment, including the role of bacteria in the nitrogen removal process.
  • What not to flush or put down the drain.
  • Production and use of Class A Reclaimed Water.
  • Career opportunities at LOTT Clean Water Alliance.
  • Stewardship of the Puget Sound.

Presentations, Field Trips, and Tours
Presentations and tours are designed for 5th grade students and older, and must be pre-arranged. Presentation length and content can be modified to best meet the needs of the group. All presentations support the Next Generation Science Standards. See the Education Menu for options and full program descriptions.

Internships, Volunteering, Job Shadows
We offer opportunities to serve as a volunteer, intern, or participate in a job shadow experience. Volunteers and interns assist with our school and community education programs. If you have an interest in helping our community learn about water, get in contact with us!

LOTT Clean Water Alliance

Facebook Page
Twitter Page
YouTube Channel

Sound Experience for Schools & Youth Groups

Sound Experience is a Puget Sound-based environmental and youth leadership organization that uniquely delivers its programs aboard the 133′ historic wooden schooner Adventuress. we reach more than 4,000 young people and adults each year, inspiring in them a greater understanding of the complexity of our marine ecological systems and stronger commitment to the stewardship of our waters. Aboard Adventuress, on day or overnight programs, participants experience the majesty and vulnerability of Puget Sound – and why the future of our marine environment matters to all of us.

Sound Studies and Sound Explorations
Sound Studies and Sound Explorations are programs designed to spark the imagination and foster an interest in science, leadership and the environment. As Adventuress sets out on the waters of Puget Sound, students work as a team to help raise the sails. They learn about Puget Sound ecology and history by participating in five hands-on discovery stations which can include:

  • Plankton
  • Marine Life
  • Watersheds
  • Ocean Acidification
  • Nautical Skills
  • Life Aboard Ship.

Program Details

  • Sound Studies: 3-5 hour shipboard education programs
  • Sound Explorations: 2- to 7-day journeys of exploration and self-discovery
  • Group Size: Adventuress’ 101-foot deck easily accommodates 45 participants for day sails.
  • Overnight programs include sleeping accommodations and meals for 24 participants.


Sound Experience

(360) 379-0439


Schools & Youth Groups Webpage

Nisqually Stream Stewards

Although the Nisqually River Watershed is blessed with a significant amount of good salmon habitat, there are still some areas in need of restoration. The Nisqually Tribe and the Nisqually River Council recognize that true long-lasting restoration and protection of salmon habitat will come about only through a community-based effort.

The Nisqually Stream Stewards are people who want to help protect and improve the health of our streams. The Stream Stewards are trained as citizen scientists, and provide invaluable information for natural resources professionals.

Nisqually Stream Stewards meet community members and natural resources professionals; monitor the health of their local streams; and assist with projects that improve stream health, such as removing invasive grass from stream channels or planting trees along stream banks.

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Stream Stewards Class
  • Salmon Watcher Training
  • Planting Projects
  • Salmon Carcass Tossing

Nisqually Stream Stewards
(360) 438-8715
Stream Stewards Website

Wolf Haven International for Students

Wolf Haven International, located in Tenino, Washington, offers a variety of presentations for groups of all ages. Groups may schedule a private guided walking visit of the wolf sanctuary and learn more about this often misunderstood animal. Presentations are also available and span a variety of topics depending on the age of the group. Presentations meet several Next Generation Science Standards – more information available upon request. For information on pricing, programs, or scheduling, please call or e-mail. Advanced reservations are required.

Onsite experiences appropriate for grades 3 – post secondary. Offsite experiences available for all ages.

To schedule, contact:
Education Department
Wolf Haven International
(360) 264-4695 ext. 223

Junior Ranger Adventures

The City of Olympia Park Stewardship Program offers many opportunities for youth of all ages to become involved outdoors. Junior Ranger Adventures is offered during the summer and allows children 6-11 years of age to earn their Junior Ranger badge in one day on an exciting adventure through three City of Olympia parks.

Participants learn to appreciate nature through responsible and fun recreation while learning about stewardship, local ecosystems, habitats, and wildlife. The adventure includes a nature walk, wildlife observation, fun activities, and a picnic. For fee and registration information, visit our website and search for “junior ranger”.

Additional stewardship related recreational activities include the Kids Canopy Climb and Great American Backyard Campout.

The Park Stewardship Program also works with classrooms on a regular basis, teaching youth about environmental sustainability, animal habitat, and how they can play a role in their local park system.

Available for grades K-12.

To schedule, contact:
Park Stewardship Program
City of Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation
(360) 753-8365

Junior Ranger Activity Guide