The main parking lot is closed for renovations. Parking is available to the East of the dinosaur statues across 18th St.
Click Here to view a map of the closure and of available parking.
This chapter compiles an assortment of field activities to support multiple visits to the bosque. These include activities that support observation skills for a class's first introductory field trip, as well as activities to develop students' critical-thinking skills in follow-up field trips.
Riparian forests are magical places. This rare and endangered ecosystem is unlike most of our arid state, so just entering the forest can be unlike anything students have previously experienced. In order to understand the complexity of the bosque ecosystem, students must first gain an appreciation for its diversity and for the uniqueness of this valuable habitat. The Going Out activities in this section encourage students to explore and discover the hidden, and not-so-hidden, secrets of the bosque and adjacent wetlands. In doing so, particularly with repeated exposure, students develop a sense of belonging to the bosque that will encourage them to want to learn more about its science and to support its protection. They develop a sense of place.
We encourage you, if at all possible, to take regular trips to the bosque or other natural area. This might be monthly, or once per semester, but the more frequent the better. These activities are designed to promote observation skills. They focus on discovery and exploration, and some include more advanced skills of data collection and analysis, and plant and animal identification.
Practical Field Trip Tips for Educators
Things to Bring on a Field Trip
Review Rules and Expectations
Students need to understand that they are visiting another creature’s home and should treat it with respect. In addition to your personal class rules for discipline, you should encourage the following:
• Use walking feet and quiet voices so as not to disturb animals.
• When students find something that they want to share, let them do so but please return everything (except trash!) to the place where they find it. A good rule is to allow students to pick up insects (within reason) and things that are “dead, down and on the ground.” Point out that many organisms (including animals, plants, fungi) live in the bosque and that you are visitors in their home. Everything belongs there and should be left, whether it is a rock, a feather or a piece of bark. An exception is with the “Find a Friend” prompt; students may carry their friends around while in the area, but be sure to return friends before leaving.
• Be gentle with any creatures you might pick up. Please discourage squashing spiders or stepping on ants; remind students that these creatures are living beings just as we are, and are part of the ecosystem. Note that handwashing is important before touching living creatures, particularly amphibians as they are especially sensitive to chemicals found in mosquito repellent, sunscreens, etc.
• Please do not pick living plants, and take care not to trample plants when walking (stay on trails as much as possible).
• These activities encourage exploration, but safety should also be a concern. There are areas of the bosque where students can get disoriented and lost. Set boundaries for exploration, such as “You must stay between this road, the jetty jacks and the river” or “within sight of the teachers” or “behind one teacher and in front of another.”
• Practice “Leave No Trace” principles.
There are many places to get to the bosque and take a walk. Maybe there is great access just down the road from your school!
But, if you are looking for some additional resources such as rest rooms or facilitators with field equipment to use, here are some examples:
Bachechi Open Space, Bernalillo County
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro County
Rio Grande Nature Center State Park, Albuquerque,
Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, Bernalillo County
Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area, Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District, Belen
Going Out - Fun Facts
There are many interesting things to discover in the bosque. Here are some fun facts to share with students about things they may find:
Chewed leaves are mostly chewed by arthropods, including insects and isopods (pillbugs and woodlice). Isopods, now the primary detritivore (dee-TRY-ti-vore; eater of dead plant or animal material) in the bosque, were introduced into this ecosystem from Europe!
Cottonwood cotton is the seed of the cottonwood tree. The fine cotton-like fibers surrounding the tiny seed allow the wind and water to transport the seed. Cottonwood trees are either male or female. “Cottonless” cottonwood trees are male trees. They produce pollen from long, red clusters of flowers (called catkins). Only female trees produce seeds; the developing female catkins are locally known as tetones and resemble peas until they open. Cottonwood seeds or cotton “fly” in late May or June, but old cotton can be found year-round under logs or in crevices.
Rolled leaves are created by a caterpillar for its home. The caterpillar eventually becomes a small moth. They can be hard to find!
Star twigs: Have students pick up a cottonwood twig from the ground. Find a terminal bud scale scar (See “Winter Bud Activity” for an illustration). It looks like a ring or collar that circles the twig. Snap the twig in two at this point. Look at the star shape formed by the pith of the twig, the cells in the center of the stem.
Acknowledgements for Revisions January 2023
Funding from: New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Share with Wildlife Program
Writing Group: Letitia Morris, Lisa Ellis, Karen Herzenberg, Molly Madden
Layout: Laurel Ladwig
Advisory Group: Selena Connealy, Heather MacCurdy, Deb Novak, Jennifer Owen-White, Kelly White
Teacher Fellows: Helen Haskell, Stephanie Kichler, Shirley L. Pareo Srouji, Laura White
Contributors: Darlene Fraher, illustrations
Additional Reviewers: Nell Burrus, Karen Gaines, Amy Grochowski, Allison Martin, Fiana Shapiro, Storm Ussery
Thanks to the Friends of the Rio Grande Nature Center