Arrow Rock Nature School

Place-based Learning at a Nature School in Arrow Rock, Missouri

We at MRBO are excited to have finally launched a pilot of the Arrow Rock Nature School. The objective of this project is to create a place-based education center serving local school districts and our rural communities. This education center will serve public and private as well as homeschooled students in surrounding counties with immersive experiences with local natural and cultural history.

We offer flexible programing to suit the needs of educators and can incorporate Missouri Learning Standards with lessons focused on nature explorations, citizen science, and service learning. With a long-standing, strong partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), we can facilitate delivery of the Discover Nature Schools curricula.


Since 2010, we have developed and conducted programs that are in the proposed nature school project as day trips. The nature school will deliver similar content as we have previously provided, but it would allow for more immersive and more impactful student experiences.

MRBO has collaborated extensively with schools, local businesses, other conservation organizations, and state and federal agencies. In particular, we have worked with Missouri Department of Natural Resources/Missouri State Parks and local community non-profits like the Friends of Arrow Rock to deliver cultural and natural history education programming. Programs in Arrow Rock include delivering Natural and Cultural History programs to hundreds of school children, a summer day camp, and teacher trainings.

What is Place-based Learning?

Place-based learning is about students building an understanding of both the ecological and anthropogenic characteristics of where they live. The nature school will also serve as a model for developing place-based learning centers in other rural areas in Missouri.

We can deliver specific programming the areas: nature explorations, citizen science projects, and service learning within this setting. The nature school will provide hands-on and immersive experiences centered on explorations of the amazing cultural and natural resources in and around Arrow Rock. When children have meaningful experiences outdoors their quality of life, health and social well-being improve, and in turn their communities become stronger and more sustainable. Everyone deserves the opportunity to enjoy time outdoors, because when people connect with nature, we all benefit.

Location and Facilities

Arrow Rock and its location afford a host of opportunities for place-based learning as it is a State and National Historic Site that is adjacent to a National Wildlife Refuge with a trail along the unit leading to the Missouri River.

Into the Future: Lawless House as future Nature School Setting

We are currently piloting the Nature School to determine all of our human resource and infrastructure needs moving forward. Our plan is to conduct programing using the Historic Lawless House and grounds as a base of operations.

Lawless House

MRBO has conducted many education programs, including the Young Explorer’s Camp, from this Historic home. Other programs include teacher trainings, multi-day public events and meetings, and northern saw-whet owl banding. This property main building is a restored farm house operated in partnership with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources – State Parks and the Friends of Arrow Rock, a local non-profit. Currently, the Department of Natural Resources is restoring prairie on the property around the Lawless House and on other nearby areas in the park.

Nature School Programmatic Overview

Students attend programming over the course of two 3-day visits, preferably one round per semester. They will have an option of developing a project to work on at their school with regular assistance from nature school staff. Upon completion of projects, classes will return to Arrow Rock for a multi-day follow-up visit. During this time, further place-based discovery and explorations, including historical and cultural perspectives, will be revisited. This final visit will culminate with presenting on and celebrating work completed on place-based projects.