Georgia Nature Center Field Trip Checklist
IMPORTANT: You must read and follow all of the steps on this page
before your field trip. Please call 1-800-800-2SUN with questions.

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Field Trip Preparation
You must follow all of the steps on this page to properly prepare students and teachers for their visit to the Georgia Nature Center, as well as to comply with all nature center safety rules and regulations. If you are unable to attend on the reserved date, and do not cancel on time, the school will be charged a cancellation fee. READ FULL TERMS & CONDITIONS FOR FIELD TRIPS.
Step 1
Download and Print Student Handouts
Nature Center Guidelines require that a copy of our Student Handout be sent home with all students at least one day before your Field Trip date. Important: If you received a grant to pay for part of your trip, this grant will be cancelled if you fail to send students home with this handout.

Some schools allow parents to join in on field trips, others do not. Please download one of the handouts below based upon your school's policy.

DOWNLOAD NOW: StudentHandout.pdf
(Use this version if parents ARE allowed to join the field trip.)

DOWNLOAD NOW: StudentHandout-NoParents.pdf
(Use this version if parents ARE NOT allowed to join the field trip.)

Please send home copies of one of the above at least one day before the field trip.

If you have difficulty downloading, call 1-800-800-2SUN and we will email a copy to you.
Step 2
Print Bus Driver Directions

(even if taking a charter bus)
WARNING: Do not use Mapquest, Google or other sites to get directions to our center! Most of these provide wrong directions to our center, and will cause you to get lost and be late. Make sure drivers use only directions printed using the form below for extremely accurate directions and travel time for buses. Note: This form displays ROUNDTRIP directions, so total travel time and total distance will be DOUBLE the actual distance and travel time.

Enter your school address below, exactly as specified, for accurate directions.
School Address, City, State Zip:

Note: Hit "Print" on the page which appears before printing out the directions.

In case the bus has GPS, please be prepared to give the driver this address:
3001 Salem Road, Watkinsville, Georgia 30677
WARNING: Do not use GPS if you are coming from Augusta, or other areas EAST of the nature center.
Some GPS units used from this direction may take you on roads with one-lane bridges impassable by buses.
Step 3
Download and Print Bus Driver Handouts
DOWNLOAD NOW: BusDriverHandout.pdf

Important: Print one copy of this handout, and one copy of roundtrip directions, for each and every bus driver. Please print handouts and directions even if you are using our own charter buses.
Step 4
Designate a Lunch Driver
We recommend students bring bag lunches, either from home or provided by the school. We allow 30 minutes for lunch in our picnic area after the tour, before students head back to the buses. There is covered seating for up to 300 students, so there is no need to bring blankets. (If students usually eat lunch very early, you may want to provide them with a snack when you first arrive at the center.) For students who bring their own lunches from home, please ask them to carry them individually. School lunches in coolers or boxes should be loaded into one large car, SUV or other parent or teacher vehicle which can follow the buses. This person can then drive lunches down to our picnic area. Full size buses cannot drive down to the picnic area, although vans and 25-passenger or smaller buses can. The parent or teacher who drives lunches down to the picnic area will receive a FREE VENUS FLYTRAP (a $10 value)!
Step 5
Prepare for Those with Difficulty Walking
Your visit includes a total of 1-mile of walking, divided into three 20-minute walks. Most adults and students, even young kindergarten students, have no trouble with the walks. On occassion, older adults, or those with health conditions, might find the total walking time too much. If there are any handicapped students or teachers in the group, or anyone else who may have trouble with the nature walks, these people should drive separately in a car or van. Alert nature center staff so these individuals can drive down and park near the main exhibit area. Disabled students and those with difficulty walking can still see most exhibits, without taking the nature walks. Students in wheelchairs should either come in a car, van or a short handicapped bus with a lift (25 passengers or less) which can drive down to our main exhibit area. Full-size school or charter buses cannot drive to the exhibit area. There is a handicapped-accessible restroom in our main exhibit area.
Step 6
(for Groups of 160 to 300 Students)
Are you bringing 160 or more students? If so, students will tour the center in two separate groups. Please know how you will divide students into these two groups before arriving. This is usually done by which buses they are on. Your group does not need to be divided precisely in half, just make sure neither group exceeds 150 students. While we can provide tours as short as 1-hour, for groups of 160 or more we recommend you allow at least 2 hours at the center, and preferably longer, otherwise guides may not have enough time to give full presentations due to the time it takes for large groups to walk from one area of the center to another.
Step 7
What About the Weather
Tours usually take place regardless of the weather. In the event of severe weather on the tour day (a tornado watch, unusually heavy rain, a severe thunderstorm, ice storm or snow), we may have to reschedule. Otherwise your tour will still take place. Please ask students to be prepared for the weather. Students and teachers should bring umbrellas and/or rain coats or ponchos if rain is forecast. We have covered seating for up to 300 students if it rains. If the weather is going to be extremely cold, students should wear jackets or sweaters, although the nature walk and covered picnic area helps keep students warm. If it is extremely hot, students may prefer to wear shorts. Even on unusually hot days, most of the nature walks are under the cooling cover of the trees, and we have misters and a warehouse-size fan to help keep students cool in our picnic and stage areas. We closely monitor weather radar during all tours. In the rare event of a severe thunderstorm approaching during a tour, we may have to end a tour early. If this happens, and the school has spent less than 60-minutes touring the center, the school will be given credit for a future field trip of equivalent size at no charge. If severe weather is forecast, please call us at 1-800-800-2SUN on the day before to discuss the situation.
Step 8
Bottled Water for Students and Teachers
If the weather is hot, provide one small plastic water bottle to each student and teacher as they get off the bus. You may also want to bring another set of water bottles to provide when they return to the bus at the end of the day. This is particularly important on warmer days.
Make the Most of Your Time
Maximize Your Nature Center Visit
Depending on your schedule, your tour can be as short as 60-minutes, or as long as 3-hours. We will work with whatever schedule you are on. You will also get an additional 30-minutes for lunch, so your total visit can be as little as 90-minutes with lunch, or as long as 3-1/2 hours. We charge the same price no matter how long you stay, so it is in the interest of your students that you do whatever you can to maximize your stay at the center. Following are tips which have helped other schools who have visited stay as long as possible:

If you are bringing school lunches, ask the cafeteria to have lunches ready 60-minutes before your scheduled departure time. Many trips have been delayed because lunches were not ready in time. The longer it takes to leave the school, the less time you will have at the center.

Be prepared to unload students from buses immediately when you arrive. Some schools lose as much as 15 or 20 minutes of tour time because they are not ready to unload students upon arrival. Do not stop to count students when you arrive. If you need to do a headcount, please do this at the school as you depart, or while on your way to the center. Even a few minutes doing a headcount after you arrive will cut into valuable tour time. As soon as you arrive and park, immediately begin unloading students from the buses so they can begin the nature walk.

Make sure students who bring lunches from home, or money for our educational store, are instructed to bring these items with them as they unload. Students with individual lunches should carry these with them. It is only a short walk to the picnic area, and valuable time is lost if you gather up all the lunches from students, and then have to distribute them again later.

There are portable restrooms available in the bus parking area. Additional restrooms for students, and an indoor restroom with sink for adults, are available in the main exhibit area. Ask students to wait until they get to the main exhibit area to use restrooms when possible, although, of course, let those in urgent need use the portable restrooms in the bus parking area.
Education Store
...and Free Plants for Students & Teachers
The teacher reserving this tour will be given 4 FREE CARNIVOROUS PLANTS (a $34 value), if students are allowed to make purchases from our education store during lunch.

Please suggest that students and teachers bring a small amount of money ($3 to $20) if they may want to purchase educational carnivorous plants, educational solar kits, or healthy snacks or drinks while at the center. Carnivorous plants are available for as little as $3 each, and solar kits start at $15. (Our most popular item is a combination of 4 different carnivorous plants which sells for $20.) We sell these items during lunch within the picnic area, so time purchasing educational items won't cut into your tour time. Our education store is fully visible from where teachers eat lunch with the students, so no extra supervision is required.

We understand that some students cannot afford to purchase items, so we also give away many free carnivorous plants during tours so even those who cannot afford them have a chance to take home a unique educational item. The only way we can offer grants, and keep admission fees low, is by supplementing our budget with sales of educational plants and solar kits.

We know how frustrating it can be to watch students waste money on useless items when on field trips, which is why we only sell a limited number of items, all of which have been personally approved by the Nature Center founder. (VIEW STORE CATALOG) Snacks and drinks are healthy, and don't even contain corn syrup. Carnivorous plants are educational, easy to grow, and come with complete instructions. Solar kits allow students to build interesting solar projects at home.

IMPORTANT: Did your school receive a grant to pay for part of the cost of your field trip? If so, one of the grant requirements is that you print and send home a copy of the handout at the top of this page, and that students be allowed to purchase educational items during the trip. While students are not obligated to actually purchase anything, if a school prevents students from doing so, or fails to send home the handout, the grant may be cancelled.
Please Invite Parents
to Join This Field Trip
Parents often want to join in on field trips to Georgia Nature Center, particularly if students are in elementary school. Since Georgia Nature Center is only open for guided tours, parents interested in seeing the Next Generation Home, solar arrays or other exhibits can usually only do so if they come when their children are on a field trip. We understand that in some cases parents can get in the way of a school's objectives during a field trip, and we've taken steps to keep this from happening. Parents usually drive separately, pay admission separately ($15 per parent) when they arrive at the center, and are given a separate area to sit in during presentations. This allows parents to enjoy the center on the same day as their children, and to also assist as chaperones when necessary, without disrupting the educational process.
What is Included on Tours?
Viewing the Next Generation Home
All tours include, time permitting, two nature walks, carnivorous plant displays, solar energy exhibits, a stage presentation, geothermal earth tubes, the organic farm and a close-up view of the outside of the Next Generation Home. Tours do not go inside the home itself. On occasion, small groups of teachers, or students age 13 and over, can be given a tour of the inside of the home during lunch. Interior tours are led by nature center founder Jeff Gold who lives in this home, and are only available if he is on the property and is available to do so. Any teacher, or student, regardless of age, can come back to view the interior of the home at no charge, by appointment. Please call 1-800-800-2SUN ext. 9696 to make such arrangements.
Read Complete Terms & Conditions.

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