School Field Trip Programs

The Journey 2008

Land as a Canvas: Voices from the Land
FOR: PreK-1st Graders (This program can work with a number of Special Education groups)

Frederic Church considered Olana (the house and the landscape) his greatest work of art. In this ½ day field trip, students will visit one room inside, tour the building exterior, and enjoy a short hike in the landscape. After exploring, students will make art from found materials in Olana’s landscape. This project originates from the Education & Information Resource Center ( and is designed to turn simple materials, like sticks and leaves, into art supplies, encouraging students to invent in nature.

Core Learning Standards in Art and Science:
Children are active learners. We approach this age group knowing that learning is through purposeful play. During this field trip we encourage participation, involve multiple contexts, and engage the senses that help children explore their environment. The youth will also use materials/props in novel ways to represent ideas, experiment to further his/her knowledge; use multiple approaches to layer clarity and further his/her knowledge Participants will learn based on observations and manipulation of things and events in the environment, and at the end of the experience students will see more than one solution to a situation.

Olana School Trip Registration Form

Field Trip Transportation Support Request


The Art of 2-D to 3-D and Back Again: Art, Land, and Architecture
FOR: K-5

Frederic E. Church spent his career turning three dimensional views into two dimensional paintings; and sketches and architectural drafts into buildings and landscapes. How does one translate between 2D and 3D?  During this day-long visit, students will begin by touring parts of the house in order to study specific relationships between art, design, and architecture. Then students will hike on the carriage paths making observations in each setting, ending in the Wagon House Educational Facility to turn a Church sketch into a three-dimensional paper model.

Core Learning Standards in Science & Art: Students will study and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment; and recognize the historical development of ideas in science, travel and art. Students will develop explanations of natural phenomena in a continuing, creative process. They will ask “why” questions in attempts to seek greater understanding concerning objects and events they have observed and heard about. Drawing from Standard #6 in Science, students will use models as representations of objects, structures, or systems, used in explanation or design. They will analyze, construct, and operate models in order to discover attributes of the real thing; they will discover that a model of something is different from the real thing but can be used to study the real thing, moving between representation and the natural world.

Olana School Trip Registration Form

Field Trip Transportation Support Request

stencil 2

Islamic Design: Persian Influence and Geometry at Olana
FOR: 4th-8th Graders

Frederic E. Church and his family travelled extensively in the Middle East in the 1860s. His home, Olana, was designed and built just after this trip—so the Hudson River Region boasts a rare glimpse into designs of ancient Persia! During this day-long visit students will tour Olana; then, with sketchbooks in hand, students will hike and sketch geometric designs that combine nature and geometry. Students will spend the afternoon in the Wagon House Education Facility working with drafting tools/rules and Persian design examples (as well as their sketch books) to create original compositions and repeating forms.

Core Learning Standards Art, Mathematics, and History/Social Studies: Students will be asked to observe and analyze designs in terms of geography, shape, proportion, and repetition in a confined border. Students will then formulate problems and solutions from everyday situations seen in regional interior design and architecture. These observations will be translated from a picture/diagram to a numeric expression and then back again. Students will present this design problem verbally, geometrically, and graphically. Students will use a number of tools to develop mathematical proportions and clean geometric compositions. Students will also link their experience to the cultural dimensions of art, they will analyze and study art, and they will make decorative art designs based on certain tools, geometric repetition, spatial parameters, and geographic sensibilities.

Olana School Trip Registration Form

Field Trip Transportation Support Request

Frederic Edwin Church, "Scenery near Fern Walk, Jamaica,"  September 1865, graphite on light blue-green paper, 10 3/4 x 17 3/8 in., OL.1977.101 Collection Olana State Historic Site

From Sketch to Study to Painting: Studying Frederic Church’s Method from en plein air to Studio
FOR: Scalable content for 3rd Grade – High School

Frederic E. Church created dozens of studies and sketches outside in the landscape before creating his masterpiece canvases inside. Students will tour Olana, hike the grounds, and study Church’s en plein air art. During this day-long visit, students will take notebooks and drawing boards into the landscape to make art and notations in the style of Church. Then they will choose their favorite drawing and make a study from the sketch, and groups are encouraged to take their en plein air studies and sketches home to continue painting.

Core Learning Standards in Art and History:
Students will explore art to understand the social, cultural, and environmental dimensions of human society through a series of activities that expose the inherent relationships between land, shaped land, and how a culture has been influenced by art works. Students will be actively engaged in making art but in order to make they will follow the following core development steps: analyze, interpret, develop, and refine artistic works of art.

Olana School Trip Registration Form

Field Trip Transportation Support Request

Scratches on chrome: Top/Left, Lower/Right.
Painting Pre-Conservation? No Fine edit.  
Working Title/Artist: The Heart of the Andes
Department: Am. Paintings / Sculpture
HB/TOA Date Code: 
Working Date: 1859
photography by mma, DT78.tif
touched by film and media (jnc) 8_4_09

Transcendentalist Philosophy & Olana: Odes to Nature and Nature Writing
FOR: Grades 9-12

While The Hudson River School was the first art movement in the USA, Transcendentalism was the first philosophical moment. Frederic Church read and travelled with Ralph Waldo Emerson, read Thoreau and Wake Robin written by naturalist John Burroughs. Around the same time Church was building Olana, Burroughs returned to the Catskills and his childhood farm to devote his life to writing and gardening. What traits were shared between these nature writers and nature painters? Why did so much of this early art in the United States focus on issues of nature? Why are so many students currently suffering from nature deficit disorder? This field trip offers as many possible answers to these questions as there are students who participate. During the daylong field trip, students will 1) tour Olana’s interior and investigate the library, art and photographs, 2) receive clipboards and little packets, as well as small notebooks and pencils for sketching and notetaking inside and outside Olana, and 3) walk in the landscape and immerse themselves in nature. Finally, students will spend 40 minutes reshaping their notes and impressions into a thesis statement on why nature matters to the artistic endeavor.

Olana School Trip Registration Form

Field Trip Transportation Support Request


Wayfinding Story at Olana: Mapping a New History with Artistic & Digital Platforms

Grades 9-12

Wayfinding: Imaging History with (Our)Story is a participatory art project by artist Dawn Breeze, that invites high school students to make art using their cell phones and/or digital cameras in Frederic Church’s landscapes. Their art (still, video, and words) contribute to a collaborative art piece in an online gallery space. This digital project picks up on Hudson River School artist Frederic Church’s legacy of capturing the wild beauty of nature in America and suggests we use technology as an aid to help find our way backward—back into an intimate encounter with nature —one in which we find ourselves collectively belonging. This field trip asks participants to look inward while looking outward, and to use technology not as a replacement for navigating in nature, but instead as a tool to notice one’s experience with nature and relocate oneself there. During the daylong field trip, students will 1) tour Olana’s interior and investigate art and photographs, 2) receive notebooks and pencils for sketching and notetaking inside and outside Olana, and 3) walk in the landscape and create their unique digital maps with their personal wayfinding notes and then share them back to the collective online gallery.

Wayfinding: Imaging History with (Our)Story is made possible (in part) with public funds from the Decentralization Program of the New York State Council on the Arts, administered through the Community Arts Grants Fund in Columbia County by the Greene County Council on the Arts.

Olana School Trip Registration Form

Field Trip Transportation Support Request

david schuyler lecture in wagon house

The Extra Credit Project: All Ages
The Olana Partnership promotes the idea that learning is a lifelong pursuit and that students benefit from learning in museums and the classroom. We offer students from any school district within 50 miles of the site, free entrance to any of our public programs if their teacher is willing to give “extra credit.” This program applies to all children grades K-12 and applies to any of Olana’s public programs that take place during the school year (even during breaks, but excluding summer). Attendees will receive a special voucher for proof of extra credit; students should make reservations in advance of attendance and teachers can look at up-coming programs by clicking here.

Funding Opportunity for 4th Graders

Over the past year the Connect Kids Field Trip Refund Grant program enabled over 30,000 school children to connect with the outdoors (and history) by refunding field trip expenses to State lands. For many students from Title 1 schools lacking field trip budgets, this was a first. The grant gave children the opportunity to play on a playground for the first time, take a guided Park hike, or attend a program at a local historic site.


This is the second year of the program and we hope that you too share this excitement.

Eligibility Requires:

-Any school in a NYS district with at least one Title 1 school

-Advantage and 21st Century afterschool programs

-Municipal youth bureaus and recreation facilities

-Refund amount up to $1,000/grant


Connect Kids to Parks Online Application

Who: Pre-K through 12 grade, homeschooling groups, college and university students, as well as adult learners

What: Field trips linked to the NY State Common Core Curriculum & NYS Learning Standards linked; programs focus on authentic learning experiences and Place-Based education models

When: Available Tuesday- Friday throughout the school year

How Much: $10 per student (1 chaperone per 10 students is free; any additional chaperones are an additional $9/adult)

How to bring a group to Olana: Visit the website and complete the online inquiry form, or please call Amy Hufnagel at 518-751-6837 to determine program and date for your group. No inquiry is considered binding until the registration form is received at Olana. Field trips are available all year long Tuesday-Friday.

Recommended Length: Arrive onsite by 9:15am- depart @ 2:15pm (can arrive and depart at slightly different times based on school day and travel time!)

Maximum & Minimum Group Size: Field trips must have 12 students to qualify for field trip pricing, busing, and scheduling. Groups cannot be larger than 52 students/adults at one time. One chaperone per 12 students is required.

Assessment: Students will, in most field trip scenarios, make original works on paper and engage in observation, modeling and information collection, and question asking. Teachers are encouraged to assess students on the following criteria: was a student engaged, and did the student listen, state, differentiate, solve challenges, and generate materials while at Olana. Teachers can download an assessment outline if interested in formalizing their assessment of students while they are working onsite. Students are also encourages to use teacher directed self-assessment.

Required Items: Bag lunch, good walking shoes and outdoor weather clothing. (Students will eat lunch onsite and we have no vendor options.)

Funding Support Ideas: Grants are available for field trips to Olana.  Click here for more information.

The following sites also providing funding for schools: DonorsChoose, Target, and community foundations such as the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley serving Dutchess, Putnam, and Ulster counties. The Olana Partnership has busing support funds available based on need and on a first come first serve basis. Each school can receive up to $100 per bus. To apply the school must send a one page letter of request, on school letterhead, and an invoice or PO from the busing company to The Olana Partnership, attn.: Amy Hufnagel, Director of Education or email.

What about the weather? These visits will happen rain or shine; there may be some slight revision to the outside components based on heavy downpours, but groups should be prepared for being outside regardless of the weather.

Contact/Questions: Amy Hufnagel, Director of Education; 518-751-6837 or email.

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