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Environmental Experiences

The Nina Mason Pulliam (NMP) EcoLab is a 55-acre outdoor environmental education laboratory located on the campus of Marian University. It provides opportunities for students to learn about lowland forest, prairie and wetland ecosystems, wildlife, native and non-native species, and water quality.

Environmental education programs have been developed with teachers’ needs in mind. Programs can range from a 1 hour expert-led hike, to a two hour program including a hike and service project to a four hour program including a hike, service project and Nina Mason Pulliam Nature Center experience. The get-your-hands-dirty service projects may vary among planting native plants, removing non-native plants or sowing seeds.The NMP Nature Center experience includes a lab activity and a variety of hands-on inquiry stations. We can also accommodate anything in-between and develop programs to address specific teacher-chosen themes. Just Ask!

We Currently Offer the Following Programs for Spring, Summer, and Fall:

NEW! Friendly, Furry, and Flying Mammals

Grade Appropriateness: K-8th

Description: Learn all about these amazing mammals, including where they live, what they eat, and why they are so important for our ecosystems.

EcoLab Junior Explorers

Grade Appropriateness: PreK-5th

Description: Students will sharpen their outdoor investigative skills and learn how to explore, observe, and record those observations in the EcoLab.

Wetlands, Beavers, and Invasives: Oh My!

Grade Appropriateness: PreK-8th

Description: Students will learn about wetlands, invasive species, biodiversity and, of course, the engineers of the wetland - beavers.

New! Our Feathered Friends

Grade Appropriateness:  K-8th

Description: What makes a bird a bird? Learn all about birds, migration, and how you can be a citizen scientist to protect our feathered friends.

New! Pollinator-Palooza!

Grade Appropriateness:  K-8th

Description: Students will delve into the wonderful world of pollinators, exploring who pollinators are, how they do their job, and why it is so important.

New! Soil Sleuths

Grade Appropriateness: K-12th

Description: Students will "dig" into what everyone takes for granted: SOIL! Through observation and scientific experiments, students learn how soil is an amazingly complex organism sustaining the majority of life on this planet.

EcoLab Ecologists

Grade Appropriateness: 6th-12th

Description: Students will become Indiana ecologists,using an array of scientific tools and field guides to complete field surveys and research in the EcoLab.

Winter Programs in the Newly Renovated Nina Mason Pulliam Nature Center:

We offer two and three-hour programs (maximum 30 students) that incorporate a science lab activity and the use of our interactive Inquiry Stations. All the winter field trips are ideal for grades 1-6, but if you have a group outside of that range give us a call and we will work to accommodate your needs. Choose from one of the programs below:

Pollination Station

Description: Students will learn about the basic concepts of pollination, what types of pollinators are found in Indiana and across the world, and will get a chance to look more closely at different types of pollen in our lab using microscopes and other updated technology in the Nature Center.

Echo-Echo-Echolocation

Description: Students will discover what echolocation is and how scientists are using it to learn about bat behavior, will learn about a special EcoLab inhabitant that uses echolocation (BATS!), and will explore how they can help scientists who study bats in the field by participating in a Citizen Science project.

Wetlands and Watersheds

Description: Students will learn about the importance of wetlands, what types of wetlands can be found in Indiana and around the world, and will explore the many types of plants and animals that can be found in Indiana wetlands. They will also participate in an activity exploring the functions of a wetland, and how those functions relate to our watersheds.

Bird is the Word

Description: What makes a bird a bird? Students will explore the many adaptations of birds, and will investigate different types of feathers and the functions they perform. Students will also participate in an engaging lab that uncovers all of the amazing ways that birds communicate.


If you have questions or wish to visit the NMP EcoLab, please call Janice Hicks Slaughter at 317.524.7701 or e-mail at jhslaughter@marian.edu to verify availability. If there is a special program you would like to do in the Nina Mason Pulliam EcoLab, please let us know. We will make every effort to customize a program for you.

Some outdoor programs can also be conducted at an outdoor facility near your organization. Inquire for details.

Teachers are also very welcome to use the NMP EcoLab on their own. Some teachers have used the area to study water quality, others have done pond studies, and still others have enjoyed learning the ways of the beaver without assistance.

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