A group of students in matching "Mighty Acorns" t-shirts use binoculars, looking upwards.

Mighty Acorns is an environmental education program that connects students to multiple, meaningful and sustained interactions with their local ecosystems. The program is designed for 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students and can be modified for other grade levels. The curriculum is aligned with Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.

Three times a year students take a field trip to a local natural area and engage in an exploratory hike, play an Outdoor Learning Game, and participate in hands-on environmental restoration work. Before and after each trip, students complete in-classroom lessons taught by their teacher that augment the field trips. These in-classroom lessons guide students to explore components of local ecosystems, issues that threaten the balance and biodiversity of local habitats and actions we can take to care for nature.

Mighty Acorns Mission: 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.

Mighty Acorns Vision: We strive to build an environmentally literate next generation that has the know-how and inspiration to take care of nature in their communities resulting in a healthier planet.

Mighty Acorns and Chicago Wilderness: In 1998 Chicago Wilderness identified and adopted Mighty Acorns as a model program for guiding students through a comprehensive learning experience in environmental education. Since then, Mighty Acorns has been a model program for the Chicago Wilderness Leave No Child Inside Initiative (LNCI). LNCI is a region-wide initiative that promotes getting kids outside to nourish their physical, social, and emotional development, while connecting them to the wealth of resources available in their backyards, neighborhoods, cities, and region.

Mighty Acorns and The Field Museum: The Field Museum’s Youth Conservation Action Team is closely involved in the work of the Mighty Acorns Partnership as well as implementing the program in the Calumet Region of Chicago. The Mighty Acorns Partnership Coordinator works at The Field Museum and works closely with partners such as the Forest Preserves of Cook County and Chicago Park District to provide Chicago Public School students the opportunity to take part in Mighty Acorns. Through Mighty Acorns, students from schools in the Calumet Region are developing a lasting connection to the environment while restoring native habitats.

The Field Museum’s Youth Conservation Action Team supports a diverse next generation of conservation leaders by providing hands-on, locally-focused environmental education opportunities that translate science into conservation action. In total, the Youth Conservation Action programs have grown to be a nationally recognized model of conservation education that reaches 3,800 students, 130 teachers, and impact 19 natural areas each year.

Mighty Acorns Partners: The Mighty Acorns curriculum was developed in the early 1990’s and has since been revised and updated to reflect the most up-to-date science and literacy standards as well as scientific content. The curriculum is implemented by a partnership of dedicated partners throughout the Chicago Wilderness Region. Mighty Acorns Partners consist of federal, state, county and local agencies, education institutions, not-for-profit agencies and foundations that provide and/or support the mission of the Mighty Acorns program and are willing to commit resources to the fulfillment of the vision and mission of Mighty Acorns. Partners can be found working together with local schools and landowners to provide program experiences to over 13,000 students each school year.

Map showing portions of the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan around the south shore of Lake Michigan. A brighter green indicates the Chicago Wilderness Region, which covers portions of each state: a small amount of southwestern Michigan and southeastern Wisconsin, a larger portion in northwest Indiana, and the largest portion around the Chicagoland area of Illinois. Chicago is the only city marked on the map. Small acorn items dot the map in Illinois and Indiana.

The area highlighted is the Chicago Wilderness Region which spans four states. The acorns represent Mighty Acorns Partner Providers: Chicago Park District, Chicago Wilderness, The Conservation Foundation, Dunes Learning Center, Elgin High School, The Field Museum, Forest Preserves of Cook County, Hawthorne Hill Nature Center, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Lake County Forest Preserves, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, the Nature Conservancy, Pringle Nature Center, Shirley Heinze Land Trust and Spring Valley Nature Center.

Want more information on how to become involved? If you are a landowner, educator, outdoor enthusiast, or volunteer, you’ll find a place in this partnership. Contact Soledad Maristany at smaristany@fieldmuseum.org or 312.665.7443.