Since 1982, Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History has been a site for exciting and informative Guided Field Trips for schools (kindergarten through college), conservation organizations, garden clubs, and other groups--and for individuals as our schedule allows.
Guided Field Trips are offered for participants from pre-school through senior citizen and can be tailored to curriculum objectives. A typical Guided Field Trip lasts 2-3 hours and is led by an accomplished educator-naturalist, usually Center executive director Bill Hilton Jr.
Field trip emphasis varies with the season and goals of the visitors. Most trips involve opportunities for an up-close look at bird banding. (Above right, Marion Davenport of Chirp 'n Chatter wild bird store in Tega Cay SC brought a group on 30 Jun 2001 and helped Bill Hilton Jr. handle a special Carolina Wren--the 39,000th bird banded at the Center since 1982.)
Hilton Pond Center is open by appointment only. Here are some other important things to consider:
- The minumum fee for Guided Field Trips for groups AND individuals is $150 for 1-15 people, plus $10 for any additional persons up to a maximum of 20, including chaperones; some activities may incur additional charges.
- For school groups, there is no charge for the lead teacher, but students and chaperones and other adults DO pay and count as part of the 20-person maximum.
- Because of liability issues, we are not able to allow folks to "tag along" on another group's Guided Field Trip.
- Please give us plenty of warning on requested dates for Guided Field Trips. We often book two years in advance, especially for spring and fall dates.
- A $25 non-refundable deposit is required when your trip is scheduled; send a check to the Center via U.S. mail, or make payment via PayPal (click on the logo below):
- Inclement weather may require rescheduling of a trip through ADVANCE mutual agreement between the Center and the visiting group.
- Cancellation of a trip without prior agreement with the Center means you lose your deposit AND will be billed for the remainder of the $150 minimum.
There are no public restrooms at Hilton Pond Center, so you may wish to make a "pit stop" at a fast food restaurant in York before arriving for a Guided Field Trip. Drinking and hand-washing water is available from an outside faucet. Groups may bring bag lunches and dine on the deck of the Center's old farmhouse; please take any trash as you depart. Parking is limited, so adult groups are encouraged to carpool. Because our trails are earthen and moss-covered--not gravel or asphalt--wet weather may require postponement of a scheduled trip. We also ask that you not wear heavy lug-soled boots that can damage trails; tennis shoes or similar footgear are appropriate. All trails are groomed, so shorts are suitable attire in warm weather.
NOTE: For safety, health, aesthetic, and environmental reasons, indoor and outdoor smoking are NOT permitted AT ANY TIME at the Center.
Scientists, conservationists, teachers, and students alike consistently say their visit to Hilton Pond Center is the best field trip they've ever been on, and that is always our goal. Just ask the kids in a homeschooled group from Columbia (above) how exciting it was on 19 Nov 2002 to capture, identify, band, hold, and release unharmed a male House Finch! In addition to bird banding, a typical Guided Field Trip includes lots of interpretive information about whatever is happening in the natural world at Hilton Pond that day, from wildflowers to mushrooms and butterflies to blacksnakes. Each participant will go home with new knowledge about nature and greater appreciation for the natural world we share with plants and fellow creatures.
In summer and early fall, individuals and groups may book special Hummingbird Banding Workshops for up-close and personal participation in the Center's long-term research on Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. This is a unique chance for young and old alike to observe hummingbirds in-the-hand (below).
Late-night Owl Prowls may be scheduled November through January as part of the Center's Northern Saw-whet Owl banding project. (Maximum group size is 15, including chaperones; limited to age 12 and older; $150 minimum applies. Owl Prowls usually occur on Friday or Saturday nights from 10 pm to 2 am, weather permitting. There are no overnight camping or restroom facilities at the Center.)
PRE- & POST-TRIP ACTIVITIES:
Staff from Hilton Pond Center may be available for visits to the classroom prior to and following your Guided Field Trip; there is an additional fee for this option. Please encourage trip participants to explore and learn from the Web site for Hilton Pond Center both before and after they make an actual visit. Some educators have designed on-line Web site "Scavenger Hunts" to insure that their students learn about the vast diversity of nature that exists at the Center.
To arrange for a Guided Field Trip, Hummingbird Banding Workshop, or Owl Prowl at Hilton Pond Center--or for an Off-grounds Workshop or Presentation at your own facility--contact EDUCATION.