School Programs

ONSC offers a unique, immersion-based approach to learning about nature and natural sciences. Every year, around 3,000 students from public and private schools in Northwest Arkansas and beyond experience the beauty and unique biodiversity of the Ozarks natural environment through our school program. We offer authentic science learning experiences that are staffed by our talented staff of teacher-naturalists. Lessons and activities are correlated with state science learning standards and provide in-depth education in biology, ecology, geology, and social studies – all while students have fun hiking and experiencing nature.

The Setting

Our classroom is the 500 acre Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission Bear Hollow Natural Area. The area features nearly eight miles of trails, bluff shelters, rock outcroppings, glades, a historic farmhouse and cabin, and beautiful vistas. Students also learn about water quality and conservation during lessons in and along the crystal clear waters of Bear Hollow Creek, which bisects the natural area. ONSC is also adjacent to the approximately 15,000 acre Arkansas Game and Fish Commission McIlroy-Madison County Wildlife Management Area. Our studies often take us to this adjacent public property to study forest and cave ecology and to experience several waterfalls and creeks.


The Experience

ONSC’s school programs are residential. Programs range from two day/one night to week-long immersions in nature. Because every day in the forest is unique, there is no “typical program”, though all students enjoy learning while hiking, examining aquatic insects and discussing water quality, exploring the forests of Bear Hollow looking for unique plants and animals or animal sign, and spending evenings enjoying music and some drama around a crackling campfire in our pavilion. Healthy and delicious meals are provided by our friendly and professional kitchen staff. Other options include tracking radio transmitter-equipped box turtles and learning about their habitat and why biologists might capture or track wildlife. Students, teachers, and parent-chaperones alike are involved equally in the learning experience, making the trip to ONSC the trip of a lifetime!

Professional Development hours are now available when you attend ONSC with your students.  Starting in Fall 2017 Teachers will be eligible to earn up to nine hours of Professional Development when they participate in ONSC’s 2-day/1-night Science in the Ozarks program.  Schedule your class for a program at ONSC and earn a little something for yourself, too!

Some tuition assistance may be available through ONSC.  To apply, complete and return our request form at least two weeks prior to your program visit. Other avenues of fundraising may be to submit a request to DonorsChoose, setup a GoFundMe account or seek donations in your local community through businesses and groups.

Contact ONSC (479.202.8340) for more information or to schedule a visit for your public or private school, class, home-school group or club!