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A high quality, place-based environmental education experience for socio-economically diverse schools.

Program Overview

The Wonders Program enables socioeconomically diverse schools to introduce students to the wonders of nature by getting them outside and away from technology. It is an excellent opportunity to enhance the students’ understanding of wildlife and how people’s actions affect wildlife and wildlife habitat.  This is accomplished through a high quality place-based environmental education experience.


From its beginning in 2012, the Wonders Program has been funded by a grant from the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) and was originally underwritten by Toyota. The grant provides funding primarily for transportation to and from the Canyon for schools with large under-served student populations. Volunteer Naturalists provide an age-appropriate school program focused on geology, ecosystems, habitats or water cycle and customized based on teacher requests.


The Wonders of Castlewood Program is patterned loosely after the Wonders in Nature - Wonders in Neighborhoods (WIN-WIN) program.  Originally developed in 1996 by the Denver Zoo and the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the WIN-WIN mission was to foster an appreciation of wildlife and its habitats, and also foster conservation through a variety of wildlife-related learning experiences.  The program, which targeted urban, socioeconomically diverse schools, ended in 2009.  Friends of Castlewood Canyon, inspired by the WIN-WIN concept strives to fill this need by funding similar programs for eligible schools. 

Application Information

Wonders Appliction

If you think your school would benefit from the Wonders Program at Castlewood Canyon, please review the reference documentation below and complete the Reservation Form.  We look forward to helping you plan a fun-filled learning experience for your students.

Letter to School Administrators:  An introduction to the Wonders Program and instructions about how to participate in the program. 

Reservation Form:  To be completed to be considered for the program.

Available School Programs:  A summary of themes, learning objectives, suggested grade levels, and program length and format for the school programs offered through the Wonders Program at Castlewood Canyon State Park. 

Tips for a Fun Hike: A summary of suggestions that will make the experience more enjoyable for the students and teachers.   

Wildlife Ethics Code for Students:  A guide to enable students to better understand behavior while interacting with a natural environment.  Park volunteers will adjust explanations of these to the age/grade level of the students.  This is an additional feature to the school program.   

Evaluation Form:  Friends requires that the lead teacher for each school participating in the Wonders Program fill this out and return it to the Visitor Center on the day of the Program.  We will use it to further refine the program.

Wonders Program Supporters

In addition to the initial funding received from NEEF, Friends of Castlewood Canyon was awarded two additional grants supporting the Wonders Program.  We would like to express our thanks to the following organizations for their support:

  • Kiwanis Club of Castle Rock Community Foundation has contributed $500 annually to the Wonders Program since 2015. Castle Rock Kiwanis is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization working to raise funds for the community causes – particularly involving kids – that they support. We are extremely grateful for their donation. 

  • Liberty Charitable Giving, a charitable arm under the umbrella of Liberty Global, generously supports many organizations. Friends of Castlewood Canyon was the fortunate recipient of $2,500 from Liberty Charitable Giving in support of the Wonders Program.

  • National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) is the nation's leading organization in lifelong environmental learning, creating opportunities for people to experience and learn about the environment in ways that improve their lives and the health of the plant. 

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