In the Community

Community Resources

MetroParks has developed community services to extend our reach and make it easy for schools, childcare centers, scouts and other groups to connect with nature.

Schools and Teachers

MetroParks offers a variety of free resources to help teachers and other educators enhance their curriculum. Many of these year-round programs fulfill state proficiencies requirements in math and science. Programs typically last an hour and are geared for preschool through high school.

MetroParks' Teacher Community Facebook group

For updates on all the latest news related to educational resources from Five Rivers MetroParks, please join the Five Rivers MetroParks’ Teacher Community Facebook group. The group connects a community of local educators, and offers resources and helpful articles, while providing the ability to ask questions and more.

Educational Field Trips for School Groups

Five Rivers MetroParks offers a wealth of onsite educational programs for area school groups. These programs are adaptable to a multidisciplinary curriculum and meet Ohio Academic Content Standards Benchmarks. We look forward to working with you and your students.

View Educational Field Trips

Workshops & Training

Five Rivers MetroParks offers workshops and training throughout the year to help teachers and school connect kids with nature. Watch our program calendar or check thing Community Groups & Training page for sessions such as:

Citizen Science

Many professional scientists out there are recognizing that everyday citizens can help them with their research.  You may be familiar with the Audubon Christmas Bird Counts, which was one of the first citizen science efforts, recently celebrating its 155th birthday.  On this day, thousands of people venture out in December in specific areas and count birds, then report those counts to Audubon.  It is quite astonishing to watch the trends of bird populations change from year to year, and decade to decade: This understanding of bird life wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for birders across the country getting involved.

Since then, countless research projects have been created, using everyday citizens to collect data.  They range from counting lightning bugs, to even mapping light pollution at night through cellphone technology.  Visit to see how big and diverse citizen science has gotten.

As you know, MetroParks aims to connect kids through nature: We want kids getting outdoors exploring as much as they can.  We also want to help teachers connect the nature in our parks with the nature around schools and in the kids’ backyard: To help kids understand that nature is all around us, not just at parks, and that what we do to nature has profound impacts on our own survival.

Citizen Science can be a gateway to both of these worlds: In order to be a good Citizen Scientist, students and teachers have to collect good data.  This requires continued visits outdoors, not just at a park, but also the schoolyard and backyard.  We’re incorporating Project Budburst, The Great Sunflower Project, and Pond Watch into our school programs.  Project Budburst has already been implemented this past spring, and The Great Sunflower Project and Pond Watch will be launched this fall.

Teachers will find our tips and links for conducting citizen science at home helpful in the classroom.

OUTstanding Teacher Award

Each year, the OUTstanding Teacher Award recognizes classroom educators who connect students with inspiring outdoor experiences that shape positive attitudes toward nature. These teachers foster a community at their school that encourages kids to get outside and active in natural spaces.

Do you know a teacher who fits this description? Nominate them for the award! Nominations are open until Jan. 31, 2024

A winner will be selected from each of the following categories:

  1. Rising Star (<10 years experience)
  2. Leader (10-20 years experience)
  3. Lifetime Achievement (>20 years experience)


Winning teachers will receive an award package that includes:

  • Outdoor educational materials to assist in connecting students to the environment
  • Plant kit with plants selected for the winning teacher’s school
  • EECO (Environmental Education Council of Ohio) membership + money to use toward the 101 Conference at Camp Kern held annually the first weekend of October
  • A one-year membership to the Cox Arboretum Foundation and transportation for their class for a field trip to Cox Arboretum MetroPark.



The award is open to any classroom educator (public, private, Montessori) in Montgomery County and adjacent counties, teaching any subject matter in any grade level from kindergarten through High School. Five Rivers MetroPark employees, James M. Cox, Jr. Foundation Board Members, Wegerzyn Gardens Foundation Board Members, Friends of Carriage Hill Foundation Board Members, Five Rivers MetroParks Foundation Board Members, award judges and their immediate families are not eligible candidates to receive an award.

In order to recognize as many OUTstanding educators as possible, winners cannot receive an award in another category in consecutive years and may only receive an award in each category once.

Criteria for Judging

  • Extent of involvement in and passion for using nature and environmental experiences as part of their curriculum
  • Evidence of sustained accomplishments or progress in nature and the environment
  • Evidence that the teacher’s interest in nature and environmental experiences has impacted other school staff and parents of students
  • Demonstrated impact and engagement of students
  • Opportunities for students to meet science, math, social studies and reading standards
  • Quality of support materials

How Do I Nominate?

You may either produce a video (5 minutes or shorter) or write a short essay that answers the following questions:

  • Why do you feel this teacher is deserving of the OUTstanding Teacher Award?
  • In what ways does this teacher get students outside during the school day?
  • In what ways does this teacher weave nature into the curriculum?
  • Does this teacher get students outdoors after typical school hours? Please provide specifics about what the teacher does!
  • What are the most significant positive impacts the nominee has made on other teachers/ the school community?
  • How does your candidate go above and beyond leading their students in outdoor experiences? Please provide specific examples of what the teacher does!
  • How does this teacher utilize outdoor space at the school? Have they created or enhanced a green school yard?
  • Why are you personally nominating this person?
  • Please choose two photos of the teacher that capture the great work they are doing, getting kids outside and bringing nature into the curriculum.

Post the video to YouTube and include the link in the form field below or upload the essay document in the Essay Upload field. For the video, don’t worry about production value as much as communicating why you think your nominee is the best candidate for the award.

Nomination Application

Past Winners


  • Rising Star (less than 10 years): Katie Guirnalda
  • Leader (10 to 20 years): Casey Potts
  • Lifetime Achievement (more than 20 years): Steve Huff


  • Rising Star (less than 10 years): Patricia Lewis
  • Leader (10 to 20 years): Beth Allaire
  • Lifetime Achievement (more than 20 years): Mary Beth Young


  • Rising Star (less than 10 years): Patricia Lewis
  • Leader (10 to 20 years): Suzanne Mitolo
  • Lifetime Achievement (more than 20 years): Brian Brogan


  • Rising Star (less than 10 years): Chris Bigelow
  • Leader (10 to 20 years): Neil Manning
  • Lifetime Achievement (more than 20 years): Lindie Keaton


  • Rising Star (less than 10 years): Kelly George
  • Leader (10 to 20 years): Laura Peterson
  • Lifetime Achievement (more than 20 years): Darla Myers


  • Rising Star (less than 10 years): Sarah Lamont
  • Leader (10 to 20 years): Darcy Rodman
  • Lifetime Achievement (more than 20 years): Mary Kathryn Gooch


  • Rising Star (less than 10 years): John Huston
  • Leader (10 to 20 years): Mary McKnight
  • Lifetime Achievement (more than 20 years): Lisa Simmons


  • Rising Star (less than 10 years): Dana Franks
  • Leader (10 to 20 years): Kristina Dobberstein 
  • Lifetime Achievement (more than 20 years): Joseph Beringer


  • Rising Star (less than 10 years): Katie Henry
  • Leader (10 to 20 years): Robert Erwin
  • Lifetime Achievement (more than 20 years): Becky Stroh
Green Schoolyards Program

Since September 2013, the Five Rivers MetroParks Green Schoolyards AmeriCorps team have been visiting local schools to help staff explore the idea of creating vegetable and habitat gardens. School gardens are great ecological teaching tools and provide a setting for children to connect with nature.

Download the Create A Green Schoolyard PowerPoint presentation.

When a school expresses interest in the Green Schoolyards program, staff goes onsite to help schools select garden sites and to meet with staff to get school-wide buy-in, including teachers, administrators, maintenance staff and interested volunteers.

If your school is interested in scheduling an initial site visit with a Five Rivers MetroParks representative, call (937) 275-7275 or email

Doug Horvath


Family Nature Packs

Dayton Metro Library and Five Rivers MetroParks have partnered to create Family Nature Packs, which families can reserve at their local Dayton Metro Library branch.

View Plants Nature Pack

View Insect & Pollinator Nature Pack

View Geology Nature Pack

Reserve online.

Leave No Child Inside

The Miami Valley Leave No Child Inside Chapter (MVLNCI) of the Ohio Leave No Child Inside Collaborative has been active since 2008, with Five Rivers MetroParks as a founding and driving member.

The group strives to get children playing independently outdoors, which ultimately leads to better health and a respect for nature. Visit the MVLNCI website to learn how you can get involved.

Education Kits

Five Rivers MetroParks offers a number of education kits that local educators can use with their students within the classroom. These kits provide teaching tools to explore history, nature and conservation subjects through hands on experiments and activities.

View Education Kits

Childcare Providers

How does your childcare center spend its summer? Inside, interacting with technology or traveling far distances paying for an indoor experience? Why not do something outdoors in nature that is engaging and local? Come explore our well marked trails, discover local wildlife, and investigate diverse habitats at a MetroPark close to you.

Natural Adventures Box Program

Wouldn’t it be great to skip the hassle of calling in for a guided program and just be able to take your kids on a cool and fun outdoor adventure whenever you wanted? With our Natural Adventure Box program, you can!

Learn more about Natural Adventure Boxes

Family Nature Packs

Dayton Metro Library and Five Rivers MetroParks have partnered to create Family Nature Packs, which families can reserve at their local Dayton Metro Library branch.

View Plants Nature Pack

View Insect & Pollinator Nature Pack

View Geology Nature Pack

Reserve online.

Growing Up WILD Training

Five Rivers MetroParks offers periodic Growing Up WILD training opportunities out in our parks. Participants receive nationally recognized curriculum guides full of nature-based activities for preschool age children. These guides and the activities in them are a great addition to any classroom, childcare center, or summer camp and we are happy to offer training to educators in our area. Training is recognized by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS), and is Step Up to Quality/Ohio Approved! Training also covers use of the Natural Adventures Boxes, and by coming, you will also gain experience in using the boxes for outdoor adventures with your students. Natural Adventures boxes are able to be reserved online for a nominal fee of $5 per reservation.

Check out our program calendar for upcoming Growing Up WILD training sessions on our Community Groups & Training page or our Teacher Workshops programs.

Best Features for Childcare Centers by Park

A visit to a Five Rivers MetroPark offers a variety of unique and fun experiences for your group. Recommended trails, features and experiences appropriate for most age groups are listed by park below. All school, commercial or nonprofit groups of 10 or more are required to schedule their park visit. For more information or to schedule, call 275-7275.

Carriage Hill MetroPark

Cox Arboretum MetroPark

  • Self-guided visits
  • Recommended Trail: Red (.6 miles, woods, grass areas)

Eastwood MetroPark

  • Playground (Lagoon Side: Last Parking lot)
  • Recommended Trails: The Buckeye Trail is accessible towards the front of the parking lot near the river.
  • Reservable Shelters

Englewood MetroPark

Germantown MetroPark

Hills and Dales MetroPark

Huffman MetroPark

  • Recommended Trails: Although there are no official marked trails, mowed paths through the area make for a great adventure.
  • Reservable Shelters

Island MetroPark

Possum Creek MetroPark

Riverscape MetroPark

  • Food Concessions
  • Water Play
  • Invention Stations

Sugarcreek MetroPark

Taylorsville MetroPark

  • Recommended Trails: Green (.4 miles, woods); Violet (.8 miles, woods, open fields)
  • Reservable Shelters

Twin Creek MetroPark

Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark

Weselyan MetroPark

Community Groups

Youth Tours

Guided Tours

Schools and other groups may schedule guided walking tours throughout out parks. Call 937-275-PARK to schedule. Reservations must be scheduled three weeks in advance.

View a list of available Field Trips.

Self-guided Tours

Self-guided tours offer flexibility for your group. Suggested trails and interpretive materials are available in a number of MetroParks:

  • Carriage Hill Historical Farm
  • Cox Arboretum
  • Possum Creek Farm
  • Wegerzyn Gardens
Adult Tours
Guided Tours

Adult groups may schedule guided walking tours at the following parks. Reservations must be scheduled three weeks in advance and are limited.

Aullwood Garden

  • Garden and Grounds Tour
    Aullwood Gardens is rich in history and is a case study in environmental sustainability.  A knowledgeable guide will help you tour the gardens and surrounding natural areas to see landscaping that exemplifies the use nature as a partner instead of an adversary.  Site history as well as the contributions of Marie and John Aull to the community from the early 1920s until today will be shared. An optional 20 minute tour of the arts &crafts style Aull house can be added to the tour upon request.

Carriage Hill

Options for Adults: April through October, for groups of 5 or more, by appointment; length: one hour:

  • Barns and Buildings
    A guided tour of the various buildings at Carriage Hill will be provided by a staff member or volunteer. This tour will focus on the different construction techniques and architectural styles found in the 19th century. Also, information will be provided on their historical importance on a farm.
  • The History of Carriage Hill
    A guided tour of the historic farm will be given to participants. The tour will focus on the farm’s actual history from its earliest occupants to its peak in the 1880s. Information will also be presented on the various aspects of farming including animals, crops and chores.

Cox Arboretum

  • Tram Tour
    Guided tram tours are available at Cox Arborteum for adults with mobility issues.
  • Walking Tour
    Learn about Cox Arboretum’s history, and the pivotal role it plays in reforestation and Five Rivers MetroParks’ other conservation initiatives. The tour covers the formal grounds of the park, taking in park highlights and seasonal blooms.

Possum Creek

  • Farm Tour
    See how food is grown and raised from seed to plate.

Wegerzyn Gardens

  • Garden Tour
    Take a pleasant stroll through Wegerzyn’s beautifully designed garden “rooms”. History of the gardens as well as the sustainable practices that keep the soil and nearby Stillwater River healthy will be shared.  Routes that include the Children’s Discovery Garden, Marie Aull Trail, and/or Prairie/Living Room can be incorporated based on your group’s interest.
  • In-depth Garden Tour
    Gain inspiration and gardening tips by touring the Wegerzyn Gardens and Children’s Discovery Garden with an experienced gardener. Tour format allows your group to focus on specific horticultural elements, plants, design and/or maintenance techniques. Routes that include the Marie Aull Trail, and Prairie/Living Room can be incorporated based on your group’s interest.
Self-guided Tours

Self-guided tours offer flexibility for your group. Suggested trails and interpretive materials are available in a number of MetroParks:

  • Carriage Hill Historical Farm
  • Cox Arboretum
  • Possum Creek Farm Tours
  • Wegerzyn Gardens

Please call 937-275-PARK to schedule.

Community Gardening

Community gardening improves people’s quality of life by providing a catalyst for neighborhood and community development, stimulating social interaction, encouraging self-reliance, beautifying neighborhoods, producing nutritious food, reducing family food budgets, conserving resources and creating opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy and education.

Learn more about our community gardening program.

Scout & Youth Leaders

MetroParks offers a variety of programs designed to support youth groups such as Daisies, Brownies, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts as well as church groups.

Service Projects

Scouts of all ages can help with Adopt-a-Park or Make a Difference Day as well as a variety of other projects, such as removing invasive plants from natural areas.

There are many opportunities for Scouts to earn the rank of Eagle Scout or achieve the Girl Scouts Gold Award in your MetroParks. Scouts can identify a variety of activities, including trail improvement projects, building projects, and habitat enhancement projects.

Request a Scout Service Project on Get Connected.

A Scout that donates their time, skills, and talents through the means of a Scout Service Project is identified as a short-term volunteer with Five Rivers MetroParks.

Learn more about Volunteering with Five Rivers MetroParks here. Please contact Volunteer Services at or call (937) 275-PARK to learn more.

Group Camping

Frontcountry and backcountry campsites are available across four MetroParks for groups of 1 to 100. Campsites are close to great park amenities, such as hiking, fishing, paddling, geocaching and more. Advance reservations are required.

Learn more about camping opportunities.

Explorer Program

Young men and women ages 14 to 20 (who have completed 8th grade) can learn about law enforcement and get hands-on experience by volunteering for the community and participating in ride-alongs with the Five Rivers MetroParks Rangers.

To apply, complete the Explorer application online, or download and print a paper application. Then submit the liability release form and medical form to Officer Adam Gaby, 2151 Embury Park Road, Dayton, OH 45414.

Stay Updated!

We Want Your Feedback!