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Saint Paul Public Schools, District 625
360 Colborne Street
Saint Paul


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Belwin Outdoor Science

Students in Kettlecamp Prairie

Photo of students with bug nets in Kettlecamp Prairie during the fall.

Photo by: May Vang

Our mission at Belwin Outdoor Science is, "To connect children to nature through engaging outdoor science experiences." We are part of the science program in Saint Paul Public Schools. We serve over 10,000 SPPS students every year in single-day, science-focused field investigations. This includes every 3rd and 5th grade student in SPPS, about 1,000 middle and high school students and about 1,800 special education students. All SPPS teachers, however, are invited to request additional visits during our open dates.

The classes offered depend on the season of students' visit. Third grade classrooms address science benchmark (CC: 4, CI: LS1) about plant and animal structures. Every fifth grade class addresses science benchmark (, also regarding plant and animal structures and how they function to help the organism survive and reproduce in a given habitat. Middle and high school lessons address a variety of science benchmarks allowing the teacher to select the lessons that best supports his or her students' classroom learning.

Belwin Outdoor Science was established by a cooperative agreement between the Belwin Conservancy and the Saint Paul Public Schools District in 1971. The agreement calls for the Belwin Conservancy to provide facilities on the 225 acres that are dedicated to this program and the maintenance of those facilities. At the same time, the Saint Paul Public Schools provide the education staff and transportation for the students to the facility. Other districts may participate in the program when invited by the Saint Paul Public School District. 

The facilities are made up of a 5,000 square foot main classroom building, an additional classroom that serves as the hub for our special education programs, the Casby Observatory (managed by the Minnesota Astronomical Society), 8 miles of trails through a terrain of a prairie, oak savannas, pine forests, oak forests, ponds, a marsh, and a stream. Approximately a half mile of this is hard surfaced specifically to allow ease of access by wheelchairs. Since 1971 over 500,000 students have visited Belwin Outdoor Science.

A Day at Belwin Outdoor Science


Belwin Outdoor Science SPPS Staff


Photo of Josh Leonard, Education Director for Belwin Outdoor Science


Oakley Biesanz  Instructor for Belwin Outdoor Science


Geoff Urban Instructor for Belwin Outdoor Science


Megan Lauzon Instructor for Belwin Outdoor Science


Natalie Spencer Instructor for Belwin Outdoor Science


Cathy Smith Special Education Director for Belwin Outdoor Science

Belwin Outdoor Science Special Education Program

An Opportunity for Specialized Services - Last year more than 2,000 students and teachers took part in the program dedicated to Specialized Services.

Student Photos

Getting There

Belwin Outdoor Science is located at:
1553 Stagecoach Trail S.
Afton, MN 55001

Phone: 651-744-7967

Trail Map

Weather and What to Wear

Find out what the weather will be like in Afton on the day of your visit...
WeatherBug website for zip code 55001

Weather can change a lot throughout the day, so we recommend dressing in layers. We also request that only closed-toe shoes are worn on the day of your visit.

Note: We take donations of warm winter boots, snow pants (5th grader size and larger) and winter coats. Please send any donations with your child on the day of their visit. Thanks!

Video: Celebrating 50 Years