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What is Your Neighborhood Oak Tree?

Your Neighborhood Oak Tree is a new in-school environmental education program for 3rd-5th grade classrooms. HPNC teaching staff will regularly visit our partner schools to deliver engaging, standards-aligned lessons from the Field Museum’s Mighty Acorns curriculum. 

STEM lessons are infused with hands-on projects, educational field trips, and social-emotional learning opportunities. Oak Tree will guide your students’ growth as they become stewards of their community and the natural world. 

A partner school waitlist is now open for the 2024-25 school year. Schools in the Hyde Park, Woodlawn, Kenwood, and Washington Park communities are given priority registration.  

Contact us to learn more and join our school waitlist!  

Program Details

All Your Neighborhood Oak Tree programming includes:

  • Proven and in-demand 30+ year-old Mighty Acorns curriculum, coordinated by the Field Museum
  • Regular access to meaningful, chaperoned field trips
  • Built-in social emotional learning: improving student engagement, self-regulation abilities, and relationship skills
  • Stewardship projects, nature exploration, and educational games and activities 
  • All supplies, tools, weatherproof clothing, and healthy snacks 
  • NGSS and Common Core English/LA standards-aligned content 

Weekly classroom visits option:

  • Field trips twice per quarter to local natural areas, museums, and more
  • Mighty Acorns curriculum supplemented with SEL, climate science, environmental justice, and gardening content
  • Classrooms enriched with plants and creative student projects 

Monthly classroom visits option:

  • Quarterly field trips to local natural areas 
  • Pre and post field trip in-class activities 
  • Mighty Acorns curriculum and program model 

Why environmental education?

Research has shown that spending time outdoors in nature:  

  • Improves academic performance and student engagement  

  • Decreases or eliminates bullying 

  • Promotes social-emotional skill growth 

  • Improves student health 

  • Increases connection to community  

  • Increases self-confidence and sense of empowerment 

Students who spend time outside in nature with HPNC say: 
“I’ve never felt so comfortable with grass!” 
“This is the best day of my life because I got to meet Froggy!”
“Is there a forest school where I can learn to be a forest man?”
“I love nature, and I love adventure more!” 

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Oak Tree Collaborators

Hyde Park Neighborhood Club is partnering with the following local organizations to develop new programs for South Side children, youth, and families

The Field Museum / Mighty Acorns: Curriculum and Program Support

“Mighty Acorns is an elementary environmental education program that engages 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students and teachers in the Midwest in stewardship, exploration and meaningful interactions with their local ecosystems through field studies and hands-on, action-based learning opportunities that allow them to develop a lasting connection with nature.”

The Field Museum works with HPNC and other organizational partners to implement the Mighty Acorns curriculum throughout. 

Forest Preserves of Cook County: Field Trips and Trainings

Illinois Extension Master Gardeners: Trainings and Center Enrichment 

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