Waukesha County

Waukesha County Environmental Education Resources Hub

Enhance your learning with these great resources from Waukesha County Parks and Land Use. Explore our virtual and in-person opportunities for learners of all ages. 

Topics are updated often, check back to see what comes next!

The Outdoor Classroom Series

Expand learning to the outdoors with an environmental education program at Retzer Nature Center! The 60-minute environmental education programs are perfect for home school groups, virtual learners, families, caregivers, scout troops, 4-H groups, and more! Programs are geared towards elementary students 4K and up. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Programs will be conducted completely outdoors, so dress for the weather. In case of inclement weather, the program will be moved to an openly ventilated location. 

Wednesdays at 10 a.m. [*The January 18 program is a 5:30 p.m. evening event]
$4 per child per class 
(Free for adults and young siblings ages 3 and under)
Pre-Registration is required at least 24-hours prior to the program.

December 14: Hibernation / Migration
Hit the trails at Retzer to see which animals stay, sleep or leave during winter. Learn about their special adaptations and strategies that help them to survive and search for their various forms of shelter and food sources.

December 21: Winter Solstice
Let’s celebrate the winter solstice and learn about why this day is the “shortest day of the year.” We will explore how different cultures marked the winter solstice and see what animals are active on this short day. (Companion program to Planetarium show – Season of Light at 11 am)

Coming Soon:

January 4: Winter Tracks and Animal Sign
Children’s snowshoes may be used during this program – weather dependent. Animals leave behind a number of clues for us to find as we explore our winter world. We’ll hunt for animal track clues outside in the snow or mud and create our own tracks!

January 18: Outdoor Classroom at Night – Night Sensory Hike
Join us for a fun night on the trail as we explore our senses to discover the sounds, sights and smells of nature at night.

Wednesdays at The Planetarium

All shows are held at the Horwitz-DeRemer Planetarium located inside the Retzer Environmental Learning Center. Complement and expand your learning with a show on the dome! All groups are welcome. The 60-minute shows are geared towards elementary students. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Wednesdays, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
$4 per child per class
(Free for children ages 2 and under).

Show descriptions by title can be found online at: https://hdplanetarium.ticketleap.com/

Public Shows on Wednesdays at 11 am:

  • December 7: Constellations: Adventures Connecting Earth to Sky
  • December 14: George and Oatmeal Save Santa
  • December 21: Season of Light
Wee Wonders

This monthly program is an opportunity for nature exploration and discovery for children ages 2 - 4 with their guardians. Wee Wonders offers hands-on experiences about a variety of nature topics. Each child must be accompanied by an adult. Each program includes an outdoor experience; please dress for the weather. 

Tuesdays & Wednesdays, 9:30 - 10:30 a.m.
$4 per child per class 
(Free for adults and young siblings ages 3 and under)
Pre-Registration is required at least 24-hours prior to the program.

December 13 & 14: Winter Party in the Pines
Invitations have been sent. Decorations are all in place. Time to get this party started! Join the naturalists in the pines as we host a party for you and the Retzer wildlife!

Explore Our Activity Guides

Flip through our digital guides for information on events, programs, activities and more.

Public Environmental Education Activity Guide
May - August 2022

School Environmental Education Guide
2021 - 2022 School Year

Retzer Nature Center Activity Sheets

Download our digital activity sheets and enjoy them when you visit Retzer Nature Center.

Resources for Teaching Outdoors

Helping educators, parents and caregivers use the outdoors to enrich learning and extend beyond the walls of a classroom. 

Resources, Projects and Ideas:

Virtual Lessons and Videos

Learn from Park and Land Use staff about ecology, wildlife, land management, recycling, waste reduction, science applications, water conservation and more!

Busting Backyard Invasives
Nearby Nature: Plant Shapes - Earth Week Edition
Virtual Wildflowers Hike - Earth Week Edition
Native Nature - Earth Week Edition

The Power of Pollination
Backyard Birding - Earth Week Edition
Turtles vs Tortoises - Earth Week Edition

Understanding Soils:  What Homeowners Need to Know for their Basements
Super Soils: Composting at Home - Earth Week Edition
Nature Storytime & Craft - Earth Week Edition
 - Reading "What Matters?" by Alison Hughs and Holly Hatam

Ask the Experts Series on Facebook
Experts from Waukesha County Parks and Land Use are joined Retzer's Facebook page live to answer your burning questions!
Watch the recordings:

-How to Green Your Lawn Q&A (Jan. 2021)
-Backyard Birding Q&A (Feb. 2021)
-Well & Septic Q&A (Mar. 2021)
-Invasive Species Q&A (Apr. 2021)
-Rain Gardens and Rain Barrels Q&A (May 2021)

Environmental Education COVID-19 Response:

All visitors are encouraged to consider CDC guidelines to protect employees and members of the public from the COVID-19 virus. Waukesha County Parks is taking steps to provide a safe learning environment, including conducting programs outside when possible, enhanced cleaning, and social distancing measures. Programs may be conducted completely outdoors, so dress for the weather. In case of inclement weather, the program may be cancelled or moved indoors.