Nature Education for Homeschool Students and Teachers (NEHST)

Nature Education for Homeschool Students and Teachers (NEHST) curriculum is divided into 3 semesters – Autumn, Winter and Spring. Each semester includes 3 monthly lessons that build upon the semester’s theme. The monthly lessons are offered on the third Thursday of every month from 10:00am – 1:30pm.  Lessons begin with the Autumn Semester on September 21, 2023 and continue until the end of the Spring Semester on May 16, 2024. 

Each monthly lesson includes classroom instruction, outdoor activities, scientific experiments and exploration, and related at-home extension activities that can be completed and explored together by the whole family.  We use hands-on methods to reinforce students’ abilities in not only science, but also math, language arts, and social studies. 

During the lessons students ages 5-13+ and parents are taught together emphasizing multi-age learning and peer assistantship.  Students experiencing a lesson for the first time learn the basics of the topic, and students with some previous experience build upon their knowledge and solidify their understanding through more in-depth exposure to the topic. 

NEHST Homeschool Topics 2023-2024

Autumn Semester: Living with the Land

This fall semester students will focus on living with the world around us.  Students will learn how to live off the land just like our ancestors did and immerse themselves in the wonders of nature while learning how to protect the planet to keep it beautiful.  

Thursday, September 21
Topic: Planet Protectors
Location: The Wetlands Institute

Come be a protector of animals and nature.  Learn how to help preserve animal habitats, brainstorm ideas to support local wildlife, and meet the conservation animals behind-the-scenes at The Wetlands Institute. Join us to make a difference in the world!

Thursday, October 19
Topic: Wilderness Survival
Location: Belleplain State Forest

Have you ever wanted to live off the land? This is a perfect opportunity for students to learn what it takes to survive in the wilderness. Play fun outdoor games as you work on your outdoor survival skills and learn how field scientists conduct ecological field work in remote areas.

Thursday, November 16
Topic: Legends and Folklore
Location: The Wetlands Institute

Explore nature through the lens of different cultures!  Learn all about the importance of animals in Native American legends and find out what your animal spirit is. 

Autumn Semester Registration Bonus!

Sign up for the whole Autumn Semester and unlock access to this special bonus event. Details below!

An Evening of Conservation
Enjoy an evening with the whole family as you learn about the work that The Wetlands Institute is doing to help conserve the salt marsh and all those who live in it.  The evening will be filled with special animal meet-and-greets, a salt marsh safari packed with fun information, and a special monarch tagging demonstration. 

Location: The Wetlands Institute
Date/Time: Wednesday, October 25 from 6:00 – 8:00pm
Rain Date/Time: Thursday, October 26 from 6:00 – 8:00pm

Winter Semester: Backyard Explorer

Become a backyard explorer this winter semester as we learn about the animals we see every day in our own backyards! Students will learn how to identify and track common native New Jersey birds and mammals as they become backyard naturalists. 

Thursday, December 21
Topic: Backyard Birds
Location: The Wetlands Institute

Winter is a great time to learn and observe feathered friends. Grab a pair of binoculars and climb to our tallest tower and get ready for a fun flying adventure as we observe backyard birds and listen to their calls. 

Thursday, January 18
Topic: Backyard Detective
Location: Estell Manor

Tracking animals isn’t just about looking for tracks. Animals can be found using smells, fur, and even poop! Become a wildlife detective as we learn together how scientists track animals using all kinds of different methods.     

Thursday, February 15
Topic: Backyard Mammals
Location: Belleplain State Forest

Learn about traits and adaptations that make mammals the masters of their habitats. Become one with the crafty coyotes, restless rodents, or burrowing bunnies that you see in your backyard. Find a new appreciation for your backyard mammals and their niche in the ecosystem. 

Spring Semester: Salt Marsh Specialist

Become a salt marsh specialist right here at The Wetlands Institute. Learn everything there is to know about the salt marsh and the animals who call it home. Students will get down and dirty as we explore the mud, the water, and beauty of the marsh.  

Thursday, March 21
Topic: Turtles, Tortoises, and Terrapins
Location: The Wetlands Institute

Do you know the difference between turtles, tortoises, and terrapins? Discover how turtles survive in their habitat and what makes them so unique. Meet Northern Diamondback Terrapins, the only species of turtle to live in a salt marsh, and find out how you can help protect them.

Thursday, April 18
Topic: Fishes of the Jersey Shore
Location: The Wetlands Institute

Get ready for a wet and wild adventure as we explore native fish and their habitats! Put on some waders and get ready to go seining in the back bays to discover the life of fish and how important they are to our shore ecosystem.

Thursday, May 16
Topic: Horseshoe Crab Habitats
Location: Stone Harbor Point

Get your feet wet and investigate the beach habitat Horseshoe Crabs call home. Learn all about the obstacles that this species faces in order to survive in the ecosystem. Become a horseshoe crab expert just in time for their spring spawning season!

Spring Semester Registration Bonus!

Sign up for the whole Spring Semester and unlock access to this special bonus event. Details below!

reTurn the Favor Walk
After learning all about how fascinating horseshoe crabs are come be a conservation hero and help save these living fossils! We will be spending 1-2 hours rescuing overturned and impinged horseshoe crabs stranded on the beach.

Location: North Cape May Beach 
Date/Time: Thursday, May 23 from 9:00 – 11:00am
Rain Date/Time: Friday, May 24 from 10:00am – 12:00pm

Discounted Semester Pricing:  Each semester includes 3 monthly, 3-hour lessons and costs $36/per participating student.  Advanced registration is required. Please call (609) 368-1211 to register at least 48 hours in advance. Payment is required in full at the time of registration and payment is nonrefundable. Monthly lessons will not be cancelled due to low enrollment, but may be rescheduled due to inclement weather.

Regular Monthly Pricing:  Although each lesson tends to build on its predecessors, you can pick and choose the monthly lessons best suited to your child. The price of each monthly 3-hour lesson is $15/per participating student.  Advanced registration is required. Please call (609) 368-1211 to register at least 48 hours in advance. Payment is required in full at the time of registration and payment is nonrefundable. Monthly lessons will not be cancelled due to low enrollment, but may be rescheduled due to inclement weather.

Program Length and Time:  Programs occur from 10:00am – 1:30pm and include 3 hours of active lesson and a 30 minute break. Lessons start promptly at 10:00am and will occur rain or shine, hot or cold! Please have children dress for the weather, be prepared to go outside rain, snow or shine and wear clothes that can get wet and/or muddy!

Special COVID-19 Considerations: As you prepare for your visit, please know that masking is optional at The Wetlands Institute and we respect individual choice related to mask wearing. For the safety of others, please do not visit The Wetlands Institute if you are feeling ill.

Traveling from a farther distance? Consider planning “A Day at The Wetlands Institute” – pack snacks or a picnic lunch and use the  afternoon time after the homeschool lesson has been conducted with your child(ren) to explore the exhibits and the outdoor trails. The marsh is an ever-changing ecosystem and our elevated walkway and dock provide countless opportunities for self-exploration and learning!

    Please Note:  To make the most out of the experience and to minimize distractions for registered children, we ask that siblings under 5 be cared for separately from the rest of the class.  It is the accompanying adult’s responsibility to monitor their behavior during the program. This is not a drop-off program. Adults responsible for the registered children must stay in the area in case of emergencies or behavioral issues. 

    Interested in a special homeschool program for your group? We can accommodate homeschool groups of a minimum of 10 students per program. Please email or call Kelianne O’Shea, Environmental Educator at with any questions or to schedule a special time and date for your group.

    Looking for more than a 3 hour experience?
    We now offer full immersion overnight programs for your homeschool group of 10 or more children.
    Complete program description:  Overnight Program