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Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, Field Trip Opportunities

Ellanor C. Lawrence Park

Field Trip Opportunities: Click for Slideshow

Ellanor C. Lawrence Park is a unique community resource well suited to reinforce students’ knowledge of Virginia history and natural resources.  Its 650 acres feature historic structures and evidence of past land use as well as a diversity of natural habitats in which students can observe firsthand the relationships between plants, animals and their environments,  human impacts on the natural world and more.

The Walney Visitor Center features a live animal display and exhibits on the parkland’s history.  Unless otherwise noted, field trips meet at the Walney Visitor Center, 5040 Walney Road, Chantilly, 20151.

Although SOL correlations are noted in the program descriptions below, most programs can be tailored to meet the needs of pre-school through 6th grades with advanced notice.  Please discuss your field trip goals with a naturalist when reserving a program date.  Programs fill quickly. 

Reservations and Payment

Field Trip Group Programs are available Monday through Friday mornings from September until June.  Staff permitting, programs may also be scheduled on select afternoons.  Students may be divided into smaller groups.

Fairfax County Schools
1-hour program $6 for students and chaperones
1.5 hour program $7 for students and chaperones
Teachers - FREE

Out of County Schools
1-hour program $7 for students and chaperones
1.5 hour program $8 for students and chaperones
Teachers - FREE

Payment in full is due on the day of your visit with check made payable to “Fairfax County Park Authority” or with Visa or MasterCard at Walney Visitor Center.

Advance reservations are required and the schedule fills up quickly. To make a reservation request, use the Field Trip Calendar. Click on a date with availability and complete the reservation request form.


Please be aware that you are not guaranteed to receive the specific dates requested. All requests will be reviewed in the order that they are received and you will be contacted to confirm your field trip dates. No requests will be taken over the phone, however, if you have any trouble please contact the site and staff will assist you in making your field trip reservation request.

We look forward to your visit!

1.5 Hour Programs

ExpandAmerican Indian Life in Fairfax County

One of our most popular programs with 2nd and 4th grades!  Students explore what life may have been like for an Eastern Woodland Indian and the relationship which they would have had with the land that is now Fairfax County at the time of European colonization.  Students rotate between up to five stations to learn about the uses of fire and native plants and animals, foodways, personal decoration and skill-based games.  Activities include a trail hike in search of native plants and animals, corn grinding, and a corn dart game.  Naturalists will also talk about what material evidence these peoples and those who came before them left behind.  This program is 90 minutes.   SOLs addressed include HSS 2.2 and VS.2.

ExpandInsect Safari: Meadow and Stream Habitats

Students compare and contrast meadow and stream habitats and draw conclusions about the general characteristics of the types of insects found in each by making observations through field collection.  Students will explore the biodiversity of the insect world and the importance of insects to other animals and plants.  (This program meets at the Cabell’s Mill complex across from Walney Pond.  5235 Walney Road, Centreville.  This is a 90 minute program.)  SOLs addressed include Science 2.4, 2.5.

ExpandPond Life

Students investigate the physical and biological characteristics of a pond habitat through hands-on collection (and release) of aquatic insects and other pond dwellers.  Naturalists will lead observation and discussion of the interdependency of life found at the pond, habitat characteristics and how human actions affect water quality and life found in aquatic habitats.  (This program meets at Walney Pond.) SOLs addressed include Science 2.4 and 2.5.  Please note: This program can be modified to address the needs of older grade levels.

ExpandCivil War Skills

Did you know that during the Civil War, soldiers camped out at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park? In this inclusive look at the Civil War, students explore the hardships faced by both soldiers, civilians and enslaved people. Students rotate between different stations and learn how to drill, how to build a campfire and cook over it, and how to read and make Civil War maps. Great for grade 4th through 6th. Available starting October 2016. SOLs covered include Social Studies VS.7 and USI.9.

1 Hour Programs

ExpandReptiles and Amphibians

Frog Students learn about adaptations, habitats, and life cycles by observing reptiles and amphibians and their habitats.  Students will have an opportunity to see live native reptiles and amphibians up close with a naturalist and will take a trail walk to explore a variety of habitats within the park looking for other reptiles and amphibians.  SOLs addressed include Science K.6, 1.5, 2.4, 3.4, 3.5, 4.5, 5.5.

ExpandTrees are Terrific!

Students will learn the basics of tree biology, identification and the important roles trees – both dead and alive – play in the environment through an interactive game, discussions and trail walk.  Depending on the season, naturalists will guide students in making tree identifications by examining and comparing leaves, barks, twigs and/or seeds.  SOLs addressed include Science 1.4, 2.4, 3.8

ExpandSenses and Seasons

Students explore the unique characteristics of the current season by using their senses to make observations on this fun and interactive trail walk.  Other activities may include a trail listening exercise and a game.  SOLs addressed include Science K.6, 1.5, 2.4.


Students explore the lives and life cycles of ants in this entertaining, interactive program.  While a naturalist leads discussion, students act out stages in an ant’s life cycle and perform a skit demonstrating how ants work together in a colony to provide for their basic needs.  Afterwards, students will take a short trail walk to look for ants in their natural environment, observe how they forage for food and identify the unique physical characteristics that make ants insects.  SOLs addressed include Science K.6, 1.5, 1.6.

ExpandShapes and Colors in Nature

Young learners explore the grounds of the historic Walney Visitor Center to find shapes and colors in nature to reinforce classroom lessons.  Students identify shapes and colors and guess what they might find of similar shapes and colors in nature before setting out to explore and discuss the how and why of what they find with a naturalist.  SOLs addressed include Science K.4, K.7, 1.4, 1.6.

ExpandWonderful Worms

Students learn about the food web, life cycles and decomposition through naturalist-led discussion and field observations focusing on the life of worms and who depends on them for a meal.  Students look for worms in leaf litter and beneath logs to collect and observe before releasing. SOLs addressed include Science K.6, 1.4, 2.4, 2.5, 3.4, 3.5, 4.5.

ExpandSoil and Water

On a short trail hike, students learn about the components of soil and observe soil layers, decomposition and the impacts of erosion in a forest.  Interactive games demonstrating the water cycle help prompt discussion of how clean water is a unique resource important to all living things.  SOLs addressed include Science 2.3, 2.6, 2.7 and 3.9.

ExpandAll About Plants

Students learn what makes a plant a plant!  During field study, students make observations and draw conclusions by examining plants in different systems, noting animal and plant interactions and looking into plants’ roles in soil building.  Naturalist-led discussion includes basic plant biology and reproduction strategies, the role of plants in ecosystems and food webs and why conservation is important.  Students also learn to identify, through comparison and contrast, at least three different plant types.   SOLs addressed include SCI 3.5, 3.6, 3.8, 3.10, 4.4, 4.5 and 4.8

ExpandAnimals and Their Habitats

What determines, in part, what animals call Ellanor C. Lawrence Park “home?”  Students will use critical thinking and observation skills to answer this question on a guided trail hike by comparing the habitat needs of an assigned animal species with what they identify as suitable food, water, shelter and a safe place to raise young within the park.  SOLs addressed include SCI 3.4, 3.5, 4.5 and 5.5.

Planning for Your Visit

Please keep the following in mind to help make your trip be a success.

Chaperone Ratio at least 1:10.

There is a 15 attendee required minimum.  Programs may be scheduled for less than 15 students, but this minimum fee will still be assessed.  This applies also to reduced attendance due to absenteeism. 

These programs are outside, so students, teachers and chaperones should dress for the weather

All students, chaperones and staff should wear long pants and sturdy shoes appropriate for outdoor activities - no sandals.

Also wear boldly printed nametags so naturalists can use names during programs.

Remind students, chaperones and staff to respect plants, animals and parkland.  Stay on marked trails and do not pick plants or remove anything, living or otherwise, from the park.

Please be on time.  Late arrival may mean programs are shortened or canceled because of other park programming and operational needs.

After the program, with proper adult supervision, classes are welcome to visit the Walney Visitor Center, which features exhibits on park history, live animal displays, a sales area, restrooms and a water fountain. 

You may want to pack a picnic lunch to eat at the park.  Because of limited trash pickup and wildlife scavenging, please bring your own trash bags and take your trash out with you

If your class chooses to picnic at the park, please bring hand sanitizer to minimize a long bathroom wait for hand washing.

Remind students, chaperones and staff to respect plants, animals and parkland. Stay on marked trails and do not pick plants or remove anything, living or otherwise, from the park.

Field Trip Souvenirs, pencils $.20 each and arrowheads $.75. If you wish to do this, please let the naturalist know when making your program reservation.


We value your input so we can make our programs the best they can be for your students!  Please complete and return the program evaluations given to you at the after the program or send an email to .

What People Are Saying

"Wonderful Worms is a perfect field trip for 1st graders. This is the 5th time I have taken my 1st graders on this field trip. The engaging Park Rangers lead the students through the park which provides them with hands on opportunities to reinforce the FCPS Science POS for 1st graders ! The Park Tour Guides keep the students engaged and eager to learn more. Each year we leave the park with big smiles and an increased depth of knowledge about Earthworms."

"Thanks for another great field trip! As always, it was fantastic!"

Stacey Tomjack
1st grade teacher

"The Trip To Ellanor C. Lawrence Park was very educational and informative. Our guide Hayley, was very knowledgeable and captured the attention of the kids and adults alike."

Abdulla Brodie Parent Chaperone

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