Environmental Education Program
Since 1974, our "flagship" educational activity has been the Fourth Grade Environmental Education Program. With supplemental funding from the Lafayette Parish School Board, this program attempts to reach every child living in Lafayette parish. Each year, we schedule every fourth grade class in Lafayette parish for a day of structured activity at the Nature Station. Prior to their scheduled day, a staff member makes an in-school visit to the class to prepare them for their visit. On their scheduled day, our bus driver picks them up from school and brings them to the Nature Station. Once here, students view a video on biodiversity, which is followed by a discussion. Students then go on a nature hike, have lunch, and then watch a second video on Louisiana snakes. They are then introduced to our discovery boxes, and get to meet Lola our prairie kingsnake. The bus then picks them up and takes them back to school. The program lasts from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. In the past 22 years of this program, we have served approximately 70,000 fourth grade students! We also schedule non-fourth grade classes (from pre-K to college level) for shorter visits and/or programs, reaching an additional 3,500 students per year.
The Nature Trails are open for exploration every day of the year during daylight hours.
Join us on the last Saturday of each month for an evening hike through the Acadiana Park Nature Trail. We begin with a slide show about nocturnal life at the Nature Station, then we take the nature trails in search of night creatures. Bring a flashlight, insect repellent, and consider wearing long pants and mud-tolerant footwear. Guests can make resercations in advance by calling the Nature Station at 337-291-8448. We usually are usually booked the day of or before the hike.
Dates: Last Saturday of every month
Guide: Staff Naturalist
Ages: All ages are welcome. Parents must accompany children.
Meet: Nature Station trail head
Time: Changes depending on the sunset
Fee: $2.17 per person. We accept exact cash and/or checks make all checks payable to the Acadiana Park Nature Station.
Weekend Nature Talks
The first Saturday of each month, we offer a nature talk at 1-2pm. There will be a different topic each month about all the awesome plants and animals that we find on the Nature Station trails and in Louisiana. Some of the topics we will cover: LA black bear, birds and migration, flying wildlife, insects, spiders, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, trees and vines, wildflowers, pollination and more.
Weekend Trail Tour
The second and fourth Saturday and Sunday of each month, we offer a trail tour, reservations are required. One of our naturalists will guide you on a hike through our trail system, pointing out plants and animals along the way. Each hike is a bit different because of the changing seasons. Remember to make reservations for this one!
Young Naturalist Clubs
We have two Young Naturalist Clubs, the Junior Young Naturalist Club for 7-9 year olds and the Young Naturalist Club for 10-13 year olds.
Space is limited in these clubs, so early registration is encouraged. We begin accepting registration in early spring. These clubs are geared towards young folks that are interested in our natural world. Call us at 337-291-8448 for more information and to sign up.
YNC — We begin a new program in July of each year for 10-13 year olds. We meet for 3 hours the 3rd Saturday of each month starting in July and ending in June of the following year. The 3 hour meeting is filled with fun and information about our diverse ecosystems. At each meeting we will discuss a different nature topic in detail, take a hike through our protected forest to observe and identify native species, and record our experiences in nature journals. We encourage graduates of this program to continue as a helper for our JrYNC, presenting material and helping Nature Station Naturalists with activities.
JrYNC — We begin a new program in August of each year for 7-9 year olds. We meet for 2 hours the 3rd Saturday of 4 months, starting in August and ending in November. The 2 hour meeting will concentrate on 4 different ecosystems and those plants and animals within those ecosystems. We will also spend time outdoors identifying plants and animals and record our experiences in nature journals. We encourage graduates of the JrYNC to continue into the YNC to extend their wonder and understanding of nature.
We offer school presentations for students at math and science fairs, wildlife education, environmental education, other school fairs and festivals; presentations for teachers on the Louisiana Black Bear and the Louisiana Black Bear game, as well as nature lessons and journaling activities to use with students. We offer wildlife and environmental education for scouts and other groups at their camps. We offer venomous animals and poisonous plants education to any group and much more. Groups interested in any nature related presentation or activity, feel free to call 337-291-8448 and inquire. Outreach programs and events depend on Nature Station staff availability
Our canoe/kayak launch is located on Francois Coulee on the north side of the Nature Station building. To access the launch, you will have to get the gate code to enter the campground by calling 337-291-8448 or 337-291-8388. Drop your boat off at the launch then drive your vehicle out of the campground to park at the nature station trailhead. Sorry for the inconvenience of walking back to your boat but our parking is extremely limited, only two spots for employees and camper pads for campers.
Click here to go to Bayou Vermilion District Paddle App
Click here to check out a list of Vermilion River canoe/kayak launches.
We have approximately 6 miles of hiking trails at the Acadiana Park Nature Station. On our main property, there are about 2½ miles of hiking trails that are surrounded by the Dan Deballion Canal and Francois Coulee. Here you will find a boardwalk that will keep you off of the ground and is wheelchair accessible. You will also find many dirt trails that run through our forest and along the Dan Deballion Canal. Across the canal, we have our North Property hiking trails that are about 3½ miles. Because we do not yet have a bridge that crosses the canal, we recommend that you drive to the parking area located on Shadow Bluff, which is next to the Dan Deballion Canal bridge. These trails are dirt trails in a bottomland hardwood forest, please be aware there may be standing water after heavy rainfall.
- These trails are for foot traffic only.
- Bicycles or other wheeled vehicles are not allowed on any of our trails. We do however welcome wheelchairs and strollers on our boardwalk.
- Dogs are welcome, as long as they are leashed.
- All wildlife is protected, please don’t harass, disturb, or harm ANY wildlife. Please don’t remove plants, animals or dead wood.
- Please pack out what you have packed in. Please do not litter.
- Camping is not allowed in this preserve. However there is a campground at Acadiana Park. For more information call 337-291-8388. Leave a message, someone will return your call.
Click here for printable map of Nature Station South Trails.
Click here for printable map of Nature Station North Trails.
Click here for printable map of ALL Nature Station Trails.
Click here for an online overview of all Nature Station Trails.
Acadiana Park Campground
Lafayette Consolidated Government also offers camping near the Nature Station. The Nature Station does not manage the campground. For camping information please call 337-291-8388. Leave a message, and someone will return your call.
Acadiana Master Naturalists, Acadiana Master Naturalist-Birding, and Community Roots programs.
In short, I have experienced the mere excitement of existence in places that would commonly be called as dull as ditch-water. And by the way, is ditch-water dull? Naturalists with microscopes have told me that it teems with quiet fun. — G. K. Chesterton