VCU Rice Center

VCU Summer Discovery class

Courses and workshops

A wide array of field-oriented classes provide unique learning experiences and training for teachers, middle school and VCU students, as well as the general public, during both the academic year and the summer session. Students are able to move from the classroom to this living laboratory to better understand and solve real environmental and ecological problems. Along with the natural setting of the center, the Walter L. Rice Education Building provides the perfect setting for stimulating educational programs.

To learn more about any of our courses, please click the appropriate header below:

Summer field classes for 6th to 12th graders

In partnership with the U.S, fish and wildlife service, the VCU Rice Center is offering summer field courses for middle- and high-school students. This year, we are offering courses for rising 6th through rising 9th graders, AND, we’ve added an additional GO FISH! course for high-schoolers (10th-12th graders)! These full-day courses will begin each day at 8:30-9am and end at 3:30- 4:30pm. Students must be dropped off and picked up each day from the VCU Monroe Park Campus in Richmond. Students are required to bring lunch each day, and to dress appropriately for field activities, but all other course materials and supplies are provided. Both courses will include classroom activities on days when inclement weather prevents field outings

Go Fish!

Learn about fishing, fish biology and aquatic ecosystems in this exciting week-long day camp. Students will get a chance to cast lures for smallmouth and largemouth bass, stalk wily stream fish in clear, cool forested streams, and angle for a chance at doing battle with a mighty James River catfish. All fishing tackle is provided.

Session 1 (rising 6th-9th graders): July 6-10, 2015
Session 2 (rising 6th-9th graders): July 20-24, 2015
Session 3 (rising 10th-12th graders): July 27-31, 2015
Cost: $300.00 per student($285.00 for registrations received before April 15)

For course registration, please fill out our registration form. For more information, contact Drew Garey at or (804) 827-0236.

Virginia Stream Team

Join our Virginia Stream Team as we investigate some of Virginia's fascinating lakes, streams, wetlands, and rivers. As an environmental scientist, you will canoe the James River, help to restore a damaged stream, and learn how the search for 'fool's gold' during the Civil War turned a normal creek bright orange! You will collect water chemistry data, study fish, aquatic insects and underwater vegetation, and determine how healthy our freshwater ecosystems are. Don't miss this week of fun investigating the wonderful world under water!

Class dates: August 3-7, 2015
Cost: $300.00 per student ($285.00 for registrations received before April 15)

For course registration, please fill out our registration form. For more information, contact Drew Garey at or (804) 827-0236.

Summer classes for teachers

Each summer, teachers from across the nation come to VCU’s unique one-week workshops that are designed especially for teachers. Spend a week of your summer exploring spectacular sites along the James River as a teacher-in-residence at Richmond’s Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, or discovering the diversity of Virginia’s wildlife. Gain new knowledge and great instructional ideas to capture your students' interest, all while earning graduate credit through VCU. See below for sample classes. For more information on individual workshops, contact Anne Wright at or by phone at (804) 828-0145.

Photo of a dragonflyWoods, Waters and Wildlife

From ecology and management of wildlife populations to environmental processes, this field workshop will emphasize hands-on activities with the research and management of the region’s native species from dragonflies to Bald Eagles. Participants will take part in scientific investigations using cutting-edge technologies like Geographic Information Systems to learn how science informs conservation and management of the Chesapeake Bay region’s living resources and critical habitats.

Photo of a frogVertebrate Natural History

If it has a backbone, we'll explore it during this varied and interesting week. Learn at the side of expert naturalists and scientists about the natural history and habitats of reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish and mammals. You will use sampling techniques to collect and observe, and learn ways to incorporate this study into your classrooms and science standards.

Photo of riverThe James River – Past and Present

From biology to earth science and history, you'll enhance your instruction and meet your standards of learning in a week of outdoor learning in the James River Park System in downtown Richmond, VCU’s Rice Center and Chesterfield’s Henricus Park. Follow historical footprints along the river as you learn how geology and hydrology shape the ecology and economics of the area.

Photo of a teacher at a VCU Rice Center workshopEntomology: Terrestrial and Aquatic Insects

Insect species … they outnumber us 900,000 to one, so we might as well know who they are! Capture insects on land and in water and identify them using taxonomic keys. Learn how to keep them alive in the classroom and make a collection to take home. Your students will love what you'll bring back to them.

EcoExperiences for the general public

VCU Rice Rivers Center is offering the general public an opportunity to experience “Science in Action” with various field workshops throughout the year. All these half-dayEcoExperiences will be held on site at the VCU Rice Rivers Center on Saturdays beginning at 10 a.m. and ending at 1 p.m. unless otherwise stated. Participants may bring a picnic lunch to enjoy by the river.

Online registration is at Space will be limited so there will be a $10 fee to reserve a spot. It may be necessary to cancel or postpone dependent on weather conditions since all these workshops are planned as outdoor activities.

Catch and Release Dragonflies of the VCU Rice Rivers Center: Ancestors of These Insects Flew Before the Dinosaurs!

Dragonflies and damselflies comprise separate suborders of the insect Order Odonata, and Virginia is host to one of the most diverse odonate faunas of any state or province in North America. Learn about their fascinating life cycle and structures, and try to catch them. Nets provided. Please wear rain boots or waterproof shoes.

EcoExperience date: May 23, 2015

Cost: $10 per person. For course registration, please fill out our registration form at

For more information, contact Anne Wright at or (804) 828-0145.

Bird Field Day: Identifying Birds by Sight and Sound

Learn about bird ecology and specific avian research projects at the VCU Rice Center including following our migratory birds to the winter grounds in Central America. See a demonstration of bird banding and learn how to identify species by sight and sound. Bring your binoculars if you have them. We will have some to share.

EcoExperience date: TBA

Cost: $10 per person. For course registration, please fill out our registration form at

For more information, contact Lesley Bulluck at or (804) 828-0072.

Wading into Wetlands: An Amphibian's Eye View of Some Exceptional Ecosystems

Wetland habitats provide numerous ecosystem services such as clean water, clean air, critical habitat for threatened and endangered species and increased regional biodiversity, and are among some of the most productive ecosystems on the planet. Come learn about these critically important, yet highly imperiled, wetland ecosystems while you engage in hands-on exploration of some diverse and unique wetland resources located at the VCU Rice Center. Hip-waders will be provided as we investigate forested and herbaceous dominated tidal/non-tidal and ephemeral wetlands along the banks of the James River.

EcoExperience date: TBA

Cost: $10 per person. For course registration, please fill out our registration form at

For more information, contact Ed Crawford at or (804) 828-9796.