Today’s young people are tomorrow’s environmental leaders.

See yourself in nature

We offer a variety of opportunities for Chicago’s youth and families. The Field’s Youth Conservation Action programs help young people from 3rd grade through high school (and beyond!), make an impact where they live. Plus, they can explore future career paths in the environment and sciences.

As childhood has changed to include more time spent indoors, there is an increased need to connect kids to nature—for their health and for the planet. Our Youth Conservation Action team supports a diverse group of future conservation leaders with hands-on, NGSS-aligned, and local environmental education opportunities. We’re working to support the next generation in becoming environmentally literate, with the knowledge and inspiration to take care of nature in their communities.

When I think about my experiences in Field Museum youth programs, the relationships that I formed with my colleagues changed my life for the better and contributed to my sense of community in Chicago.

Levi Jenkins, past participant

Students and teachers from our partner schools learn about the outdoors alongside museum ecologists, social scientists, and educators. You’ll meet others from across the city, all while learning about local nature. Together, we’re translating science into action. 

Summer institute for teachers

The Youth Conservation Action Summer Institute takes place over one week each year in late summer. Topics include utilizing local natural areas and school grounds as a laboratory for science, implementing inquiry-based methods and lessons, and expanding the classroom walls through the use of technology.

For more information, email Colleen McVeigh.

Environmental education programs

The Field’s Keller Science Action Center offers Youth Conservation Action programs for students from elementary through high school. All focus on learning about natural environments close to home.

Have questions or ready to get involved? Email us at

Mighty Acorns

Kids in grades 3 through 5 connect with their local ecosystems through Mighty Acorns. Students throughout the Chicago Wilderness region develop a lasting connection to the environment while restoring native habitats. At the Field, we work with many partners across the Chicagoland region to engage more than 8,000 Mighty Acorns students in meaningful outdoor activities that pair with standards-aligned school curricula.

Watch what it’s like to join Mighty Acorns

Learn more about Mighty Acorns

Mighty Acorns Students Looking Through Binoculars

Earth Force

Youth in grades 6 through 8 develop skills to solve environmental issues in their community. Earth Force uses a problem-solving approach: Students choose a local environmental issue, like toxic cleaning solutions in schools or air pollution, and implement a conservation action project to address it.

Watch what it's like to join Earth Force

Learn more about Earth Force

A student stands next to his science project display board.

Calumet in my Back Yard (CIMBY)

Calumet Is My Back Yard (CIMBY) engages 9th–12th grade students and teachers on Chicago's near to far South Side in educational activities and experiences that connect classroom learning to environmental stewardship opportunities. Students 1) connect with nature, embracing the restorative properties of outdoor experiences, 2) investigate local environments to foster social-ecological systems thinking, and 3) are supported in taking civic action for environmental issues that matter to them. The CIMBY program is carried out as a partnership of the Chicago Public School's Department of Social Science and Civic Engagement, the Field Museum, and the Dunes Learning Center.

Watch what it's like to join CIMBY

Learn more about CIMBY

Two students work outdoors in a field trimming vegetation.

Student volunteers collect seeds in Beaubien Woods.

Iza Redlinski, © Field Museum

Chicago Green Ambassadors 

Students ages 15 through 22 can apply for this paid summer internship program. Together, the Roots & Routes Initiative and Youth Conservation Action lead Chicago Green Ambassadors in increasing access to green spaces. Participants from the neighborhoods of Chinatown, Bronzeville, Little Village, and Pilsen all work to connect their communities to the south lakefront. 

Watch what it's like to join Chicago Green Ambassadors

Learn more about Chicago Green Ambassadors

A group of young people pose in front of a sculpture surrounded by trees.

More learning opportunities

There are lots of ways to learn and explore with the Field online, at home, and in the museum. Join one of our online events to talk with a scientist, take a closer look at SUE the T. rex in a virtual tour, and find the don’t-miss things to see during a museum visit.

Kids & Families visit guide