The Hilliardton Marsh Research and Education Centre is committed to providing quality educational programming for all, schools in the district and beyond. Students can have access to the bird banding lab on Monday-Friday during the spring and fall seasons of the school year. Our program is best suited for students from grades 4-8, although many secondary teachers find the experience beneficial to their art, geography, and science curriculums.

Booking Availability:

The Hilliardton Marsh is open for school bookings during both our spring and fall migrations. This means teachers should plan a fall trip to the marsh during September-October or in the spring from May 1st until mid-June.

Winter field trips may be facilitated upon special request but are dependent on staff availability and programing.

Why include a Marsh visit in your plans?

The three goals outlined in The Ontario Curriculum: Science and Technology (2007) are as follows:

  1. To relate science and technology to society and the environment 
  2. To develop the skills, strategies, and habits of mind required for scientific inquiry and technological problem solving 
  3. To understand the basic concepts of science and technology 

All three of these goals, as well as many of the Overall and Specific Expectations developed from them, can be met through the various aspects of a marsh visit. Further, there is a large, and perhaps growing, disconnect between humans and the natural world, causing problems that have come to be known as Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD). The term was coined by author Richard Louv in his book The Last Child in the Woods in order to explain how our societal alienation from nature is affecting today’s children. A lack of routine contact with nature may result in the symptoms of NDD, which include attention problems, obesity, anxiety, and depression, and may lead to stunted academic and developmental growth. A visit to the marsh may be a step in the direction of alleviating NDD for many of the children in our care.

What Curriculum Expectations can I meet with a Marsh visit?

The Ontario Science Curriculum states,

“Fundamental Concepts are key ideas that provide a framework for the acquisition of all scientific and technological knowledge. These concepts are matter, energy, systems and interactions, structure and function, sustainability and stewardship, and change and continuity.”

“Developing a deeper understanding of the big ideas (the broad, important understandings) requires students to understand basic concepts, develop inquiry and problem-solving skills, and connect these concepts and skills to the world beyond the classroom.”

HMREC’s programing allow teachers to meet various aspects of their Science Curriculum. We understand that every visiting group is different, and individual teachers may come with his/her own goals for the visit, so we will do our best to help facilitate those goals.  We are confident that a visit to the marsh will inspire many young scientists, artists, poets, and future conservationists and hopefully provoke a new appreciation for the wildlife we share our planet with.

What will my Marsh Visit Look like?

Marsh visits occur in morning to coordinate with our research efforts.

Students will be introduced to our researchers to see real science in action, learn about the science behind bird banding, and may even have the opportunity to hold and release a bird after it is banded. Students will also have the opportunity to explore the marsh ponds where many aquatic creatures in different stages of their development can be captured and examined. Teachers may opt to take an additional “hike” through our newly developed trails or around the marsh ponds to further investigate the plant and wildlife that make the Hilliardton Marsh their home, and to learn about the Marsh’s history and biodiversity, as well as the importance of wetlands as habitat, and as “filters” in natural water systems.

To Book Your Marsh visit

To inquire about booking or to learn more about what to expect from your visit please complete the form below. A volunteer will contact you and send a school group package. The package includes pricing, class size restrictions, student/chaperone ratios, safety and behaviour expectations, a “packing list”, and the itinerary for your visit.

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Our programming is best designed for grades 4 and up.
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If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.

Rachel Carson

Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher ‘standard of living’ is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free. For us of the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important than television.

Aldo Leopold