Sustainable agriculture, forest management and year-round experiential learning opportunities

Teaching and demonstrating the benefits of innovative, sustainable management of forest and farmland

School Programs

Thank you for your interest in bringing students to Merck Forest and using our 3,100-acre working landscape as an extension of your classroom. We have several programs and service learning opportunities to offer at the farm and/or in the forest. We welcome all ages of students and hope to work with you to develop a program that fits your curriculum. If you have any questions regarding programming or would like to schedule a visit with your class, please contact us at or call 802-394-7836.

Our School Program offerings are available for preK to college-level students. These seasonal outdoor education programs provide teachers with opportunities to immerse their students in a dynamic working landscape and engage them in place-based learning.

Offerings are adapted to support age-appropriate learning goals and teacher-defined objectives. Stay tuned for Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards alignment in future programming!

Tuition for our School Programs is donation-based.

All Ages

Year Round
Approximately 1.5-2 hours
Educational Farm Tour

Spend time exploring our 60-acre educational farm alongside our experiences staff. Learn how our animals are raised, what their role is in our working landscape and, depending on the month, visit our gardens to see what’s growing. Come early or leave time afterwards to have a picnic or go on a hike with your students!
School Programs

Grades PreK-4

Fall (September-November)
Approximately 1.5 hours
  • Ecosystem Investigations in the Changing Forest
    Hike along the Burke Trail and experience fall in the forest as you connect with the sights, sounds, smells and sensations of the season! Explore the diversity of color in the woods as you learn about tree anatomy and the lifecycles of an ecosystem.
  • Ins and Outs of Eating and the Cycle of Nutrients on the Farm
    Peck, dig, munch, munch, munch! Visit our horses, sheep, chickens, pigs and rabbits to learn what and how they’re eating. Through hands-on investigations, you’ll discover how their bodies are well suited for finding, picking and eating their favorite foods.
Winter & Spring (January-June)
Approximately 1.5 hours
  • Winter Forest Ecology & Wildlife Investigations (Jan - Mar)
    Hike along the Discovery Trail and find out which animals go dormant, hibernate or stay active throughout the winter. Mimic the different ways animals move through the woods, and become a “snow sleuth” as you look for tracks and other signs of winter wildlife!

  • From Sap to Maple Syrup (Mar - Apr)
    Plant your roots into the ground and throw your branches upwards! Become a sugar maple tree, and learn how sap moves through your trunk and branches in early spring. Tap a tree, and find out how sap is turned into maple syrup.

  • Lifecycles of Livestock (Apr - Jun)
    Investigate the life cycles of different farm animals and identify what makes mammals, mammals! Visit our newborn lambs to experience first-hand how their diet and dependence on their mother will change as they grow older.
Sap Bucket

Grades 5-8

Fall (September-November)
Approximately 2.5-3 hours
  • Ecosystems Investigations in the Changing Forest
    Discover how New England forests have changed over time as you hike down the Burke Trail and find clues of past land use. Identify characteristics of some common Vermont trees and study the many layers of a forested landscape.

  • Ins and Outs of Eating and the Cycle of Nutrients on the Farm
    Trace the flow of nutrients on the farm as they cycle through our soils, plants and animals. Learn how each type of animal is specially suited to eat and digest their food and uncover the secrets of compost ecosystems!
Pig Pen
Winter & Spring (January-June)
Approximately 1.5 hours
  • Winter Forest Ecology & Wildlife Investigations (Jan - Mar)
    Explore how animals survive Vermont’s cold and snowy winters as you hike along the Wildlife Trail. Learn about animal adaptations and shelter building as you hunt for clues about who may be keeping warm below your feet, or above your head!

  • From Sap to Maple Syrup (Mar - Apr)
    Visit our hillside sugarbush and explore the science of making maple syrup. Spend time with our sugar makers as you follow the path of sap from tree to bottle, and tour the inner workings of the sap house!

  • Lifecycles of Livestock (Apr - Jun)
    Visit our flock of sheep and identify adaptations that make them suitable grazers. Compare these adaptations to those of other farm animals, and explore the role of each within our working landscape.

High School and College

Custom-Made Learning Experiences (Available Year-Round)

Collaborate with Merck staff to design a farm or forest-based experience that ties into your curriculum. Examples include: service-learning projects, maple sugaring, sustainable land management, draft power basics, watersheds, land use history, alternative energy and small-scale gardening.

Grade 5 - College Level

Service Opportunities (March-November)

Undertake a purposeful work-based project on the farm or in the forest.
Service Work


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We are not affiliated with, nor do we receive annual support from Merck & Co. Inc.
We are not part of any government agency. All donations are tax-deductible to the extent
allowed by law and are greatly appreciated!

Banner photo courtesy of Dan Sullivan
© Merck Forest and Farm Center, all rights reserved