Marie L. Haberl School Outreach Program: Three Seasons at Heart Lake

“We are almost there!” The exhilaration is palpable near the rocky crest of Mt. Jo. While the backdrop of dramatic foliage signals another seasonal change in the valleys below, a familiar scene is unfolding at the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Heart Lake Program Center: an intrepid line of 4th graders has just made a tangible connection with the natural world that they will inherit.

Since 2003, ADK’s year-long science-based fourth-grade school program, Marie L. Haberl School Outreach Program: Three Seasons at Heart Lake, has taken a unique approach to achieving three significant goals: promoting responsible outdoor recreation, scientific inquiry, and eco-literacy.

The program is ADK’s inquiry-based environmental education curriculum that weaves together responsible outdoor recreation, wellness, and both the natural and cultural history of the Adirondacks.

This program is donor-funded and offered to schools free of charge.

“It fits the curriculum nicely. A lot of what is learned in this program appears on the New York State Science Exam for Grade 4.” – 4th Grade Teacher

“Dear Friends at ADK Loj; Thank you for a wonderful day. I enjoyed exploring nature. My Favorite part was figuring out what animal left the track” -4th Grade Student

Three Seasons Kids in Snow

Seth Jones

The program has three components: classroom visits, journals, and field visits. All are designed in conjunction with teachers to help meet classroom goals and are aligned with New York State Learning Standards. We integrate academic disciplines by providing activities such as comparing habitats, studying animal behavior through tracking, writing poetry, and keeping a field journal. This approach engages students who excel in every subject and emphasizes critical thinking, teamwork, and decision making, as well as encouraging creativity and curiosity.

Every fall, winter, and spring, ADK educators go into the classrooms of participating schools. They present engaging lessons on Leave No Trace, outdoor preparedness, natural, and cultural history of the area, and skills such as map-making. Paired with each seasonal classroom experience is a field visit to ADK’s Heart Lake Program Center in Lake Placid, New York. Complementing each classroom and field-based experience is a series of journal prompts. Prompts include reading comprehension, writing, and science activities. Journals allow teachers to do additional pre and post-field trip lessons. In the fall, students learn about forest ecology and Leave No Trace Outdoor Skills and Ethics, culminating in a hike up a mountain during their field trip. Winter focuses on animal tracking and preparedness, paired with a snowshoe hike. In spring, students explore burgeoning life while practicing mapping skills in the field. There is also a wrap-up visit at the end of the school year reflecting on what the students learned throughout the program.

Participating Schools

Bloomingdale Elementary School, Boquet Valley Mountain View Elementary, Boquet Valley, Lake View Elementary, Keene Central School, Keeseville Elementary School, Lake Placid, Elementary School, Arthur P. Momot Elementary School, Oak Street Elementary School, St.
Bernards School, St. Regis Falls Central School, Schroon Lake Central School, Petrova Elementary School, and Long Lake Central School.

3 Seasons Educators in Heart Lake

Ben Brosseau

Bringing Heart Lake to your Backyard

In a COVID world, ADK educators move Marie L. Haberl School Outreach Program: Three Seasons at Heart Lake online. We call this online version “Bringing Heart Lake to your Backyard.”   Each season, five videos employ science, beauty, wonder, and humor to highlight observable natural phenomena and encourage students to explore right where they are. The videos are accompanied by a nature journal and activities that support the fourth-grade curriculum and help students engage with the outdoors. We use examples that students can experience wherever they are in the region to reinforce New York’s Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). We hope to inspire students with the beauty of their world and foster a desire to protect it. The principles of Leave No Trace are infused throughout the program and provide students with tangible steps they can take to protect the places they love to play.

A great option for parents, homeschool students or remote classroom teachers, this digital program is available free of charge.

Register Here to join the program and get access to materials.


The fall video series introduces Leave No Trace, encourages students to make observations, and shares the science behind fall foliage. We closely follow the quick transformation from green leaves to bare trees. Trail erosion is also covered in this series. The accompanying activities encourage students to catalog the foliage change from one spot in their yard, learn the importance of nature journaling, and play in the leaves. Come explore the fall season with us!


The winter program shares the adaptations that plants and animals use to survive the winter. A fresh layer of snow gives animals a blank canvas to lay their tracks on. We share the different track gaits of animals and encourage students to go look for tracks to find out who their animal neighbors are. We also share how to be prepared for winter adventures and highlight the importance of snowshoes and skis in winter travel. Students will also learn more about the importance of snow and how it forms intricate flakes. We encourage students to keep playing outside even when it’s cold!


The spring is bursting with new life to observe and experience! This five video series will guide students to explore spring growth through mapmaking. We will share the basic of maps and use them to document our naturalist observations. The accompanying activities and nature journal encourage students to get outside and explore wherever they are. Students will gain the Leave No Trace knowledge to help protect the outdoors while they play this spring and summer.

Tom leads 3 Seasons Activity

Seth Jones

Leave No Trace accreditation logoSince its inception, the Marie L. Haberl School Outreach Program: Three Seasons at Heart Lake has been imbued with the main tenets of Leave No Trace outdoor skills and ethics. Our goals are to teach students the skills they need to recreate safely and responsibly, to illuminate the wonders of the natural world during four classroom visits and three on-site adventures, and to stimulate a lifelong connection to the wild lands surrounding their communities. We aspire to spark a sense of stewardship in the next generation of local Adirondack elementary students. Tangible experiences and educational discovery dovetail to emphasize the

power of Leave No Trace throughout our program.

As an Accredited Leave No Trace Youth Program, this program engages youth-serving programs with the essential standards and assessment resources that enhance the impacts of stewardship education for young people who spend time in the outdoors. As a fully Accredited Youth Program, Adirondack Mountain Club’s Marie L. Haberl School Outreach Program: Three Seasons at Heart Lake demonstrates the highest commitment to providing youth with relevant and accessible Leave No Trace education.

“Leave No Trace Accredited Youth Programs are committed to the highest education standards and best practices for teaching today’s young people about responsible recreation,” said Andrew Leary, National Outreach Manager for Leave No Trace.

To learn more about this school outreach program contact:

Maggie Newell
ADK, Outreach Coordinator
518-523-3441, ext. 127

CLICK HERE to support ADK’s school outreach programs with a tax-deductible donation.