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a Wisconsin state park, forest, recreation area or trail.
Camping opportunities
in state parks and forests.
How to buy
a vehicle admission sticker or state trail pass.
Get Outdoors!
to attend a nature program or event with family and friends.
Explorer booklets
Exploring under a tree at Havenwoods State Forest

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:
Wisconsin State Parks

Wisconsin State Park SystemWisconsin Explorer Program

This year, kids all over Wisconsin are Solving Mysteries!


Program basics

Wisconsin Explorer patchesMake 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 solving mysteries 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. The program is designed and funded for each child to complete one booklet and earn one patch each year. To preview or download a booklet, 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
Booklet for ages 3-5 [PDF] Booklet for ages 6-8 [PDF] Booklet for ages 9 and up [PDF]

Request a Patch

Patch requirements

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 11 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 the booklet). 
  • Ages 6-8: Pick up litter, look for signs of wear and tear (see page 18 in the booklet), or stand up to plant bullies (see page 23).
  • Ages 9+: Watch for milfoil (see page 20 in the booklet), check your green score (see pages 22-23), or save the natives (see page 27).

4. Fill out the evaluation form with a grown-up.

Complete the evaluation and request a patch

After completion of the program, you and your child can fill out the evaluation/patch request form in the booklet. To receive a patch, turn the form in at any participating state park or mail to:

Wisconsin Explorer Program
Havenwoods State Forest
6141 N. Hopkins Street
Milwaukee, WI 53209

If you have misplaced the form, look under the "Share Nature" tab and print the one needed.

Collect all nine patches!

Wisconsin Explorer patchesKids 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

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/Youth Leaders

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.

Last revised: Thursday April 02 2020