The Clifton Institute is an environmental nonprofit located on a beautiful 900-acre property just north of Warrenton. We conduct scientific research, carry out habitat restoration, and provide education, all in one place. Pre-K-12 students on our fields trip contribute to real science projects being done here at Clifton, the results from which are helping us better understand and manage native habitats in our region.
In the 2022-2023 school year, we will be offering five projects for field trips to participate in. Each project is only active during a certain time of year (insects in the summer, amphibians in the spring, etc.), as shown in the image below. Come back more than once and experience different projects throughout the year! Our experienced staff guide students through the research projects by breaking them into bite-sized tasks that are aligned with grade-appropriate SOLs. Most importantly, we make space for students to feel the joy following their curiosity and the magic of exploring nature together.
We require a minimum of 10 students in order to run a program, or we charge a minimum flat rate of $50 for groups of fewer than 10 students.
*We will not let financial issues get in the way! If you are interested in signing up for a program but are unable to pay the program fee, please let us know!
The cost is $5 per non-FCPS student and $2 per FCPS student for all programs regardless of length. We do not charge for teachers, parents, or chaperones.
We usually send school groups an invoice electronically after the program. There is a place in our Field Trip Request Form to enter the contact information to which an invoice should be sent. That way we can charge for the actual number of students that attend. If you would prefer to bring a check or cash on the day of the trip you may do that as well.
The longer students are able to stay at the field station, the better! We encourage teachers to come for a whole day if possible. However, our programs are flexible and can be as short as 2 hours or as long as the school day depending on the teacher’s schedule. In the Field Trip Request Form, we ask teachers to specify a start and end time and whether students will be eating lunch on site.
Please alert us as soon as you need to reschedule or cancel a program! Programs that cancel within 7 days of the trip for reasons outside of severe weather or illness outbreak will be charged a $50 fee.
We hold field trips even in light rain and hot / cold temperatures. However, should a greater than 70% change of heavy rain, snow or thunderstorms be predicted for the day of the trip, Clifton staff will be in touch with our point of contact to discuss rescheduling within 48 hours of the trip. We will make a final call no later than 5PM the day before the trip.
We request a minimum of 10 students in order to run a program. If fewer than 10 students attend we charge a minimum flat rate of $50. We have space school buses and staff to manage groups of up to 75 students. If you have a larger group, please contact Bridget Bradshaw (email@example.com) to discuss options.
Our parking lot can only hold around 25 vehicles. All adults are free, though we ask that chaperones help manage the group and keep side conversations to a minimum if they choose to come. If they do not wish to participate, then they are welcome to hang out and talk near the house so long as it is not disruptive to the program.
We have 6 outdoor picnic tables and plenty of lawn space for students to eat lunch. However, we only have enough covered space for around 20 students, so be prepared to take lunch back to school if it begins to rain heavily during the program.
We have 2 port-a-johns and a portable handwashing station at the peach house.
Yes! From April through October we have dog, deer, and lone star ticks. Staff usually wear either tall rubber boots or shoes with permethrin-treated gaiters to keep ticks off. These are both preferable to using bug spray on shoes, as some of our programs involve work with insects and amphibians who are extremely sensitive to bug spray. However, ticks happen and all of the staff are accomplished tick-removers. Students should always check for ticks when they get home!
Clifton staff often wear rubber boots year-round in order to keep feet dry on dewy mornings and ticks off in the spring through fall. Sturdy closed-toed shoes are also a good option. Almost all of our trails are mown grass. Long pants are also recommended to keep from getting insects bites, scratches, or irritation from grass. Layer appropriately, as we will be starting and stopping, sitting and hiking!
We are a pack-in, pack-out facility. This means that any trash visitors generate while they are here should be brought out with them. The exception to this is paper towels from the handwashing station which can go in the trash can provided. However, any foody trash in there will cause the whole thing to be upended by racoons and/or bears. Please plan to bring your own garbage bag. Thank you for helping us keep the field station trash-free!
All of our staff are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and all of our programming takes place outdoors. We are happy to comply with any masking protocol that is in place with visiting groups. Even if students are not wearing masks outside, we ask that students bring masks with them in the event that a staff member needs to take them inside or perform any first aid. If you need to reschedule or cancel because of COVID (or any other infectious disease) outbreak, please let us know and we will waive the $50 cancellation fee. Thank you for helping reduce the spread!
Please do! We offer a multitude of free walks and other programming where you can come and explore the grounds with a staff member. To see our events, please visit http://cliftoninstitute.org/events. The property is open to Friends of Clifton ($40 annual donation) on Saturdays from January-October where are welcome to explore on their own. If you are interested in seeing the property or learning more about the visit before you bring your class, please contact Bridget Bradshaw (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you are interested in having us facilitate pre or post-trip activities at your school, please contact Bridget Bradshaw (email@example.com). We are a very small staff and our busiest months are October, November, April and May. We will do our best to find a time to come to you, but cannot guarantee it.
Any program in our Program Guide is available for homeschool students! For the Field Science Experience programs, students must be 6 or older and must be dropped off here. Parents and younger siblings are welcome to remain near the house while we take the students into the field. You may also choose a Guided Hike, which are open to the entire family, provided all participants are able to walk for around 1.5 hours. We are a small and flexible team, so please reach out to Bridget Bradshaw (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any specific requests and we can address them on a case-by-case basis!
“I personally felt that this was one of the best educational trips I have taken my students on in a long time. Not only were the presentations informative, so were the staff interactions. The students loved being part of a research project. It made them feel that the activity had purpose. It was also great to have knowledgeable people explaining the topics instead of volunteers reading from a script!”
“We had a wonderful time at Clifton, and hope that we will have many more trips in the future. The activities were spot-on and the students enjoyed the time outdoors exploring. I thought you’d like to know I looked over today and noticed a student had changed his screensaver to a beaver! You all made a lasting impression & a great memory for our 5th graders.”
“Thank you so much for hosting us! Everyone told us how wonderful the Clifton Institute was, and they were right! We had the best time! It was the first field trip for all of the students in a VERY long time (COVID), and they loved every second of it!”
“We had a fantastic experience at Clifton! Communication around the field trip was excellent. I particularly appreciated the pre- and post-field trip resources provided. Bridget and Jacob were very knowledgeable, friendly, and approachable. I loved that we were able to go through the entire experimental process in one day – students truly gained an appreciation for field science (the good and the bad!) thanks to this field trip.”
“We all enjoyed our morning with you. Thank you for your expertise and giving the students the opportunity to dig into classification. Giving them the space and time to slow down and pay attention in the woods was wonderful to see.”