The Wisconsin Explorer Program is a parent-child discovery program in Wisconsin state parks and forests.
- Contact information
- For more information about the
Get Outdoors! program, contact:
- Beth Mittermaier
Wisconsin State Park SystemWisconsin Explorer Program
This year, kids all over Wisconsin are exploring the extremes!
Make tracks to the nearest state park, forest, trail or recreation area and ask for a free Wisconsin Explorer booklet. Inside you'll find nature activities, scavenger hunts, games, hikes and crafts to help you explore Wisconsin's great outdoors together.
Kids who complete the requirements will earn collectable state symbol patches. Don't just sit there - get out and start Exploring the Extremes together!
Wisconsin Explorer program grows with kids
There are three age levels in the Wisconsin Explorer program (3-5 years, 6-8 years and 9 years and up). Three themes help kids explore different parts of the great outdoors. With nine booklets, a three-year-old can begin the program this year and participate until age eleven without repeating a booklet.
Pick up a booklet and start exploring!
Wisconsin Explorer books are available at most state parks, forests and recreation areas. In addition, several trails also have books. To preview or download a book, select the cover that matches the age of your child.
|Booklet for ages 3-5||Booklet for ages 6-8||Booklet for ages 9 and up|
Request a Patch
1. Complete at least half of the explorations at a park or at home.
- Ages 3-5: Complete 5 to 10 of the explorations.
- Ages 6-8: Complete 6 to 12 of the explorations.
- Ages 9+: Complete 7 to 14 of the explorations.
2. Attend a nature program or take a nature hike.
3. Do something that will help nature or the park:
- Ages 3-5: Pick up litter or clean up your campsite (see page 14 in booklet).
- Ages 6-8: Pick up litter, look for signs of wear and tear (page 18), or stand up to plant bullies (page 23).
- Ages 9+: Watch for milfoil (page 20), check your green score (page 22-23), or save the natives (page 27).
4. Fill out the evaluation form with a grown-up.
Complete the evaluation and request a patch
After completion of the program, your child can request a patch at any participating state park, forest, trail or recreation area; complete the evaluation form in the booklet; or complete the evaluation form online.
Please note: The online evaluation forms are temporarily unavailable. Completed evaluation forms in the booklet can be dropped off at any participating state park, or can be mailed to:
Wisconsin Explorer Program - PR/6
Wiscconsin Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 7921
Madison, WI 53707
Collect all nine patches!
Kids can earn a different patch every year. Kids who start the program at age three can collect all nine state symbol patches.
- American robin – state bird
- Honeybee – state insect
- Sugar maple – state tree
- Muskellunge – state fish
- Whitetail deer – state wildlife animal
- Red granite – state rock
- Wood violet – state wildflower
- American badger – state animal
- Trilobite – state fossil
Share nature with your children!
Today, many children are growing up in structured environments that don't allow much time or freedom to play outdoors. By helping them connect to things they discover in nature, you nurture values of good stewardship and build strong bonds that will last for a lifetime.
For more information about the Wisconsin Explorer program, requirements for earning a patch, hints for exploring nature with a child and evaluation forms, click on the age of your child.
Educators and youth leaders
The Wisconsin Explorer program is designed for individual children visiting state properties with family members or adult friends. As an educator, you are invited to use Wisconsin Explorer booklets and activities with children in your class or group. However, children in these groups cannot earn patches.
Educators and youth leaders can download the booklet PDF files or request one hard copy of each booklet. Permission is granted to copy individual activities, journal pages or entire booklets as long as copyright information remains on each page.