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School Programs


• Stillman Nature Center is a private, not-for-profit center for environmental education located on 80 acres of woods, lake, and meadow in South Barrington, Illinois.  A former estate, the land was donated by Alexander Stillman for the purpose of establishing a nature center.


• Stillman Nature Center offers programs for school children throughout the year. Classes at the Center are taught by our naturalist.  Fees vary with the amount of staff time provided by Stillman (see below).  School groups, especially those that visit in winter and summer, should remember that Stillman does not have an indoor visitor center. For students with special needs, Stillman does have an accessibility trail.


• Stillman Nature Center welcomes all organized groups, including adult organizations.  If your group is looking for a new place to schedule a field trip, give us a call at (847) 428-OWLS (6957).  Stillman¹s Director, Mark Spreyer, is also available for outreach programs. He is particularly well known for his owl presentation. Fees for outreach programs vary with the distance from Stillman to your meeting place.




Scheduling: Reservations are required for all classes. Program times range from under an hour for younger classes to two hours for older students. After selecting one of the field experiences below, call (847) 428-OWLS (6957) or email us at If you are interested in a subject not offered here, please ask our naturalist.


Group Size and Supervision: Stillman will not accept groups of more than 60 students at any one time. There must me at least one adult per eight students. If your class has special needs, let us know.




Fees:  $50 for each program per class of, approximately, 25 students.


Clothing: Please make certain that the kids dress appropriately. When it is cold, dress in layers to stay warm.  Make sure the students have hats, gloves, and boots.  When it is warm, have them wear boots or old shoes that can get muddy and wet. If you feel the need, use insect repellent before coming to Stillman.




Pond Study and Wetlands:


Stillman's pond community is home to everything from tiny duckweed to painted turtles that bask on a fallen log. It is the ultimate hands-on experience for students to sift through pond mud in search of insects and other aquatic life. Stereoscopes are available for older students. Teachers that have pH and/or dissolved oxygen kits are invited to bring them along and test the water.


Stillman's marsh is thick with cattails and home to waterfowl and muskrats. For classes with more time, a pond/marsh comparison might be of interest. Stillman also has soil probes that can be use to take samples in the wetland.


Grades: 2nd - college

Seasons available: Spring, Summer, Fall


Name That Tree:


Whether it's with the green leaves of summer, autumn¹s spectacular colors, or an icy twig,  Stillman's naturalist will show your class how to identify some of our Midwestern trees.  Easy to remember tips and simple hand-outs will keep your class from barking up the wrong tree. Besides identification, aspects of forest ecology are also included.  


Grades: 4th - college

Seasons available: Summer, Fall, Winter    


Birds, Beaks & Behavior:


Most students won't know the names of the birds that can be seen here. However, with the help of Stillman's binoculars, they can learn to look for certain characteristics. How big is it? What shape is its beak? What does the bird sound like? How does it act? Answers to these and other questions can then be brought to a field guide or naturalist, both are provided, and, the bird's name will be discovered. Much about a bird's way of life will be learned in the process.  


Stillman's Director is also a licensed bird bander. For smaller groups of older students, a bird banding demonstration can be arranged.  


Grades: 4th - college

Seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall  


Insect Study:


Students will be able to explore our tall grassland and, using sweep nets, catch insects and spiders that they discover. These bugs will introduce students to the diversity of insect life that can be found not far from home.  When the kids catch a praying mantis, you’ll have their attention! Students must dress appropriately as Stillman’s “bug terrain” can be a bit rugged.    


Grades: 2nd - college

Seasons:  Fall  


Nature Walks:


Anything is fair game on a nature walk. It might be fox tracks in the snow or spring wildflowers in the woods. Bring the class and we¹ll look together.  


Grades: all

Seasons: all


Owl Outreach Program

Stillman's Executive Director, Mark Spreyer, has been bringing owls to school classes, garden clubs, wildlife conferences, and other groups for nearly twenty-five years. In recent years, the Stillman Nature Center has expanded its collection of permanently injured raptors. Now's the time to schedule Mark and our knowledgeable volunteers to talk to your group. The following fee schedule is for locations within twenty-five miles of Stillman. We will travel further but the fee would increase. Remember that we can't guarantee a precise number of raptors as they are permanently injured live animals which may not always be able to travel.


Fee Schedule:


One program (four raptors): $250.00

Two programs: $350.00 (This price assumes back-to-back scheduling.)


One program (five raptors): $300.00

Two programs: $425.00 (This price assumes back-to-back scheduling.)


The programs can be adjusted to suit any grade from first on up. Those of you dissecting owl pellets or studying the ecosystems of Illinois would find our presentation particularly applicable. If food chains are in the curriculum, what better way to illustrate what a predator is?


If you have any questions, Mark can be reached at 847-428-OWLS (6957) or by e-mail at

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