Address: 6692 Cedar Lane, Columbia, MD 21044

Nature Center & Grounds: Wednesday-Saturday: 9am-5pm; Sunday: Noon-5pm; Closed Mondays & Tuesdays

Main Phone410-313-0400

General Admission Prices:
$5 Adults
$3 Children ages 3-17 yrs
Free Children under 3 yrs
We also offer annual memberships

Inclement Weather: 410-313-4452 (option 6)

Closed: January 1, Easter Sunday, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving (Thursday & Friday) & December 25.

Amenities: Indoor exhibits and children's discovery room, outdoor trails and natural play area, planetarium, gift shop, rental spaces and more.

Virtual Tour

Robinson Nature Center

For Visitors


Center Rules and Expectations


Guest Expectations

  • Visitors that do not meet the facilities expectations may be asked to leave.
  • Please stay home if you have a fever (100.4 or above) or are experiencing symptoms of illness.
  • Practice good personal hygiene (wash hands, cover sneeze/coughs).
  • Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times when visiting the Nature Center, Nature Place and trails.

About Us


We are a unique LEED Platinum-certified nature education facility situated on 18 acres of land adjacent to the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area. We offer educational programs, field trips, birthday parties, home school, scout programs, and more. This Center was made a reality through the foresight and generosity of James and Anne Robinson. The Center continues to be partially supported by the James & Anne Robinson Foundation and is owned and operated by the Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks.

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally-recognized, consensus-based green building certification system. Buildings are evaluated and awarded LEED certification at one of four levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. The higher the level, the more aspects of green design and construction must be addressed and documented. Very few buildings reach the Platinum level. Robinson Nature Center was certified as LEED Platinum in February 2012. Click on the links below to read more about the LEED features in Robinson's Green Construction for Green Education brochure.


Annual Passes and Memberships


Memberships to the Nature Center help support and enhance our programs, and allow members to access special benefits.

Annual Pass
Annual Passes are sold in the following categories. Prices listed are (R) for Residents of Howard County or (NR) for Non-Residents of Howard County.

Senior or Student - $20 (R)/ $40 (NR)
Students must present valid school identification. Senior rate for individuals 50 years and up.

Individual - $25 (R) / $50 (NR)

Family - $50 (R) / $100 (NR)
Includes family members of the immediate household. 

Friends Membership
Add $50 to any of the membership levels above, or become a Friend through the membership levels below, to support exciting new projects at Robinson.

Patron - $175 
Includes two complimentary tickets into the planetarium.

Supporter - $250
Includes two complimentary tickets into the planetarium and two complimentary guest passes into the nature center. 

Sustainer - $500
Includes two complimentary tickets into the planetarium and two complimentary guest passes into the nature center. 

Lifetime - $1,000
Includes lifetime complimentary admission for an individual; four complimentary tickets into the planetarium, and four complimentary guest passes into the nature center. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Annual Pass and Friends Membership

How long do memberships last?  
Memberships are valid for one year from the date of purchase. 

What are the benefits of my Annual Pass?  

  • Complimentary general admission to the Center & trails
  • Member-discount pricing on select programs
  • 10% Member discount on purchases from the gift shop
  • Optional member e-newsletter updates (center projects, upcoming programs and special offers)
  • The ANCA reciprocal membership program allows Robinson Nature Center annual pass holders free or reduced admission at other nature centers that participate in the program. For a list of nature centers that participate in the ANCA reciprocal membership program, click here.

What are the benefits of my Friends Membership?  

  • All the same benefits of an annual pass, plus
  • Friends-only benefits (listed next to each Friends level above)
  • Financial support for Title 1 school scholarships
  • Friends-only activities and events

Does my Family Pass include my Grandchildren/Grandparents?  
Family passes cover everyone in the immediate household. Below are two exceptions:

  • Grandparents may purchase a Family pass to include their grandchildren, however the children’s parents are not included under this pass.
  • A Family Pass issued to parents can cover grandparents bringing the children to the center, but not when parents and grandparents are visiting together.

Exhibits & Gift Shop


Permanent Exhibits

Our indoor permanent exhibits provide locally-relevant information and interactive interpretation. Exhibits span two stories and are wheelchair and stroller accessible.

Experience the Chesapeake Bay Watershed exhibit:

  • Explore the length of the Chesapeake watershed with a floor painting.

Discover the Changing Lives, Changing Landscapes exhibit:

  • View artifacts and a historical timeline of local land use.
  • Turn the wheel of our model grist mill and watch it transform grain into flour.

Wind your way through the Life of the Forest exhibit:

  • Delight in the sights and sounds of life through the seasons in an Eastern North American deciduous forest through the seasons and shifts in day and night.

Learn about your impact in the Backyard Habitat exhibit:

  • View a sample of what you can do in your own backyard to support native wildlife including pollinators and birds.
  • Feel free to grab a seat and do some birdwatching at our feeders.


Discovery Room

  • Investigate nature through hands-on activities with puzzles, natural objects, and games suitable for all ages.
  • Perform your own puppet show starring animals of your choosing.
  • Enjoy a nature storybook from our rotating collection of children’s nature books while overlooking the forest below.

Animal Wall
Many of our programs include live animal presentations. When the animals are not out and about, you can visit them in the Discovery Room where our animal wall provides you a view of their tanks.

Rotating Exhibits

Looking to display your art or to extend the reach of your exhibit? Local artists are welcome and encouraged to apply to display their art work in the Robinson gallery space. For additional information on our art gallery, please email Jessee Standbridge at jstandbridge@howardcountymd.gov.


Organizations that loan exhibits temporarily and are seeking to engage new audiences are encouraged to contact Jaimie Wilder at jwilder@howardcountymd.gov.

Gift Shop

The Robinson Nature Center gift shop is open during our building hours. Access to the gift shop does not require admission.

We carry a variety of sustainable goods including science kits, field guides, books, children's toys, puppets, astronomy items and much more. Here's a sample of what you can find:

  • Educational toys and interactive science kits
  • Local, hand-crafted ceramics and wooden bowls
  • A wide selection of books for children and adults
  • Artistically designed "Blue Q" bags and pouches made from 95% recycled post consumer materials
  • Plush, award-winning specialty puppets from Folkmanis
  • Hand-crafted, nature-inspired jewelry
  • Cooperative learning games suitable for the whole family
  • Nature-and-animal-themed, kid-friendly crafts
  • Disposable kitchen alternatives

Outdoor Trails & Nature Place


Trail System

Robinson Nature Center has approximately one mile of trails. Portions of the trail are paved, while the majority of the trails traverse rugged, wooded terrain. The paved portions of the trail are wheelchair- and stroller-accessible. Download or browse Robinson's Walking Trails brochure and a map of the trails.

Accessing the Trails
Our trails are accessible to pedestrian traffic when the building is closed. However, if you are driving to the Center, please note that the parking lot gates are only open during the building's hours of operation (Weds - Sat from 9AM to 5 PM, and Sun from Noon to 5 PM). For safety reasons, the trail may be closed if there is maintenance scheduled or if there are high winds.

What You Can Expect
Along our trails, you will encounter a stream crossing and views of the Middle Patuxent River. The trails are non-surfaced and take approximately 20-30 minutes to hike. Along the trails, you can enjoy a variety of trees marked by arboretum signage generously donated by the Howard County Forestry Board.

Please pay admission or purchase an annual pass if you plan to use our trail so that we may continue to maintain the trail.

Trail Rules
Please stay on our trail, marked with the yellow trail hiker symbol. Do not make your own trail. Bikes are not allowed on our trails as the trails are narrow and we do not want our walking patrons to be disturbed.

Dog Policy
Keep the Nature Center wild! We request that you refrain from bringing a dog to the Nature Center or the Nature Center trail. Many visitors come to the Nature Center to see birds and other wildlife that dogs scare away. Additionally, the Nature Center serves a large number of children who may be scared of dogs. We want children to feel safe and to have the chance to enjoy the wildlife. Please note that the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks maintains numerous trails on which leashed dogs are welcome. Service animals trained to assist patrons with disabilities are welcome in the building and on the trails when harnessed.

Nature Place

Have you ever spent time in our Children's Discovery Room and wished your child could take that same opportunity for inquisitive play outdoors? Your wish is now a reality with the Nature Place at Robinson!

Developed in consultation with a design team from the nationally-recognized Nature Explore group, this space provides opportunities for children to explore nature with their imagination, creativity and energy. See a video of the ribbon-cutting here.

This space includes a climbable rope spider web, a giant underground slide, an interactive mud kitchen, musical instruments, and more. We hope you enjoy this ever-changing space. You can also be a part of making this space for connecting children with nature at Robinson even better. Check out the sponsorship opportunities to see how.


Full Dome Digital Planetarium


In 2020, the Robinson Nature Center welcomed a new Digistar planetarium system to our full-dome movie theatre.  This new system is much brighter, sharper, and higher resolution than our old planetarium system. The new projectors show a 4k resolution image - twice the resolution quality of our old system! Our education staff can customize our astronomy shows to include STEAM topics and explore space with more depth with real time updated planetary surfaces from NASA satellite imaging. A staff favorite, the system also features a “free flight” mode to explore the universe like an astronaut! Public programs are scheduled throughout the year, and private parties can be booked in the space.

Film Previews

Film Name

Recommended Ages

Recommended Grade

Closed Captions available:





Backyard Wilderness




Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity




Bugs! A Rainforest Adventure




Cosmic Adventure




Dinosaurs Alive




Dynamic Earth




Earth, Moon & Sun




Expedition Reef




Faster Than Light




Invaders of Mars








One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure




Passport to the Universe




Secret Lives of Stars




Secrets of the Sun








Titans of the Ice Age




Two Small Pieces of Glass




We Are Aliens!




We Are Stars




Wildest Weather in the Universe




Zula Patrol: Down to Earth




Zula Patrol: Under the Weather





Sensory Friendly Visit


Call us if you need assistance: 410-313-0400.

The Robinson Nature Center welcomes your family's visit. In partnership with Leadership Howard, Howard County Recreation & Parks' Therapeutic Recreation program and the Howard County Autism Society, we have developed visual, social, communicative and sensory supports for children and adults with autism spectrum disorder as well as developmental, sensory and learning differences. You will find these supports throughout the nature center and can read more about them below. Additionally, we offer regular training opportunities for our staff and volunteers on how to accommodate children and adults with developmental, sensory and learning differences. We hope our staff, volunteers and tangible supports help your family to have a successful visit and leave you feeling happy and eager to return and to continue exploring nature as a family.

Sensory Backpacks
Upon request, we have sensory backpacks at our front desk for your family's use. The backpacks contain noise-reducing headphones, sensory fidgets and a Robinson "Nature Explorer" badge. You will also find a copy of  our sensory friendly building map and information about Howard County's Therapeutic Recreation program inside the bags. 

These bags are free for use throughout your visit. All we ask is that you leave a drivers license or other ID at the front desk which will be returned to you upon your departure. 

If you are planning a visit with a child who has special needs, you may call ahead of your visit to notify our front desk. When you arrive and check in with the front desk, they can provide you with more information on the visual/sensory supports available and/or check your family out a sensory backpack to enhance your child's experience at the Nature Center. If you would like any items removed from your backpack, please mention when you call ahead and we can have the backpack ready when you arrive.

Sensory Friendly Building Map
The maps below show our building's quiet areas and headphone zones and give an idea of what to expect in each area of our building. Click on the links below to preview the picture-based map or the text-based map.

Quiet Areas and Headphone Zones
Our Headphone Zones are locations where we expect the noise level to be higher due to exhibit sounds or due to high use on busier days. These are areas where those sensitive to loud noises might prefer to use noise-dampening headphones.

Our Quiet Areas are places where we expect the noise level to be reduced. If you’re looking for an area to unwind, these locations are the best to visit indoors. Getting out on our trail system can also provide a very relaxing experience.

Social Narrative
Preview, download, print and/or read the social narrative below about visiting the Nature Center with your child. This narrative covers what to expect during the visit and provides pictures of different areas indoors and outdoors to help your family prepare for your visit.

Planetarium Visit/Social Narrative
If you will be joining us for a planetarium program or are booking a group visit with this component, see the planetarium visit social narrative below. Please call ahead of your visit if you would like to reserve a bean bag seat, soft blanket, fidget items or a weighted item for your child’s lap. To find out when planetarium programs are offered, see our program page.

We would love to hear how your visit to the Robinson Nature Center went, and any improvements that could be made to help you feel more welcome and at ease. Call or click here to take our brief online survey. During your visit, should you utilize a sensory backpack, there is a card with a QR code that also links to our sensory friendly visit survey. Thank you for your feedback!


Sponsorship Opportunities


Caring for live animals is a big job and requires many resources. The animals at Robinson Nature Center serve as educational ambassadors, providing numerous learning opportunities for the public and helping us spread a message of awareness and conservation. 

You can support the animals residing at Robinson Nature Center with an annual sponsorship. Each sponsorship comes with a package of benefits and make great gifts! 

Planetarium/Full-dome films – $3,000-$10,000

Robinson Nature Center’s “NatureSphere” is the only planetarium in Howard County offering regular programs for the public. The Center partners with sponsors to acquire new, exciting, full-dome films for public viewing. Become a Tier 1 or Tier 2 sponsor by sponsoring the cost of a license agreement for one of these films.

Tier 1 – $5,001-$10,000

  • Thank you screen at the beginning of public showings of the planetarium movie for the duration of the license agreement (between 5 and 20 years)
  • Private showing of the film for employees prior to film “opening” to the public
  • Recognition in the planetarium film brochure

Tier 2 – $3,000-$5,000

  • Thank you screen at the beginning of public showings of the planetarium movie for the duration of the license agreement (between 5 and 20 years)
  • 20 complimentary tickets for planetarium programming
  • Recognition in the planetarium film brochure

School Field Trip – $3,500

The center is the host to many school field trips each year. Your sponsorship covers the cost of a field trip program and busing for a group of students from schools serving populations where 75% or more of the students are in the Free & Reduced Meal program (Title 1 schools). Choose a school close to your business or donate to support any of these schools. In return for your generosity, receive...

  • Recognition through a thank you social media post
  • Thank you screen on our lobby digital screen for a year
  • Thank you slide for one month at the HCRP headquarters' digital screen
  • Sponsor recognition in the Nature Center’s classroom spaces during the field trip
  • Sponsor recognition on the Nature Center’s Field Trip webpage

Outdoor Structure or Play Elements – $2,000

The center includes a Children’s Garden, Nature Play Area and Trail system. Help us engage visitors through sponsoring new components for these areas (ex: sculptures, instruments, and planters). In return for your generosity, receive...

  • Recognition on plaque for new element for the duration of the element’s lifetime
  • Thank you post on social media
  • Thank you post on our lobby digital screen for a year

The Nature Center – $1,500

Help support the nature center’s mission. Donations support tree and garden plantings, live animal care costs, educational programming and Discovery room games, books and toys. In return for your generosity, receive a...

  • Thank you post on social media
  • Thank you post on our lobby digital screen for a year

Animal Sponsorship – $60 

  • Place your name on digital signs for a year at the nature center.
  • Receive a certificate of sponsorship, a fact sheet about the animal, and a special gift*.
  • Get the opportunity to experience a private, behind-the-scenes encounter with all of our animals.
  • Receive a “letter from camp” (a mid-year update) from your sponsored animal.

*Gift subject to change based upon availability.

Contact the front desk at 410-313-0400 for details.

For Program Participants


Programs, Camps, Home School and Special Events


We offer over 250 different public programs throughout the course of a year. From nature walks, to outdoor puppet shows and from planetarium programs to tastings, there is something for everyone to enjoy!

We offer monthly home school classes for ages 4-12. Staff from the Center lead home schoolers in nature and science explorations using the Center's grounds and resources to engage students. Click on the links below to register for classes.

During the summer, we offer numerous camp experiences for ages 2-3 with their parents and ages 4-12 without a parent. Click on the links below to find out more and to register.

Check out our upcoming program calendar with all of Robinson's programs by clicking here. Alternately, you can use the links below and sort by date using the filter. 

Below is a listing of the programs and camps offered throughout the year. 
If nothing is offered currently, please check back.

Pre-K (0-5 yrs)
Nature & EnvironmentOutdoor PreK ClassesPre-Home School ClassesParent/Child ProgramsOutdoor Puppet ShowsPlanetarium ProgramsFamily Programs

Youth (5-12 yrs)
Nature & EnvironmentHome School ClassesJunior NaturalistPlanetarium ProgramsFamily Programs

Teens & Tweens (11-17 yrs)
Nature & EnvironmentHome School ClassesPlanetarium ProgramsFamily Programs

Adults (18 yrs +)
Nature & Environment: Nature WalksLadies Night Out ProgramsPlanetarium ProgramsFamily Programs

Active Adults (55 yrs +)
Nature & Environment: Senior Naturalist, Ladies Night Out programsPlanetarium ProgramsFamily Programs





Visit our Forms & Publications page for all required forms. 

For Instructors


Field Trip Planning and Title 1 Sponsorships


Helpful hints for your field trip planning 

Check out all of our offering in this short video.

  • We begin accepting requests for Fall and Winter field trips (September - February) the Wednesday after Memorial Day.
  • We begin accepting requests for Spring and Summer field trips (March - August) the Wednesday after Labor Day.
  • We offer on-site field trips at the Nature Center, Robinson on the Road programs (brought to your school) and virtual field trips. Each program has a separate request form.
  • Outdoor seating is available for field trip lunches at the Nature Center (weather-dependent). Please note, if your field trip is larger than 30 students, we will need to rotate groups through the outdoor seating area.
  • Because our field trips are first-come, first-served, we cannot "hold" dates. To secure your desired date, you must complete and submit a field trip request form, Robinson on the Road request form or virtual field trip request form. Please submit the form prior to submitting your requested date to your school admin for approval. If you wait to submit a field trip request form until admin approves your date, you may lose your date due to someone else booking it before you. If your administration does not approve your date, you may always re-schedule or cancel 30 days prior to the field trip without penalty.
  • Please submit your request form for field trips at the Nature Center at least one month in advance of the field trip date you are requesting. Robinson on the Road programs and virtual field trips should be requested at least two weeks in advance of the field trip date you are requesting. You should receive an email confirmation once your form has been submitted.
  • All field trip communication (confirmation forms, teachers' packets, schedules and invoices) will be provided via email. Please add esizemore@howardcountymd.gov to your email safe list to ensure that you receive these documents.
  • If you see any changes that need to be made to the schedule or the number of students and adults that will be attending the field trip, please call Emily Sizemore at 410-313-0410 at least one week in advance of your trip so that the nature center can accommodate any changes. The nature center cannot guarantee accommodations for groups that fail to make requested changes known prior to the day of their trip.
  • We recognize that you may wish to cancel for a variety of reasons, but our policy encourages early decisions as to not affect other schools. All cancellation requests must be submitted to the Nature Center in writing at least 30 days prior to the field trip. If a field trip is cancelled less than 30 days prior to the scheduled date, the cancellation will be subject to a 20% administrative fee. The fee is calculated based on the total cost of the scheduled field trip. This policy also applies to schools that are considered a ‘no-show’ for their confirmed field trip. 

The Friends of the Robinson Nature Center provide sponsorship for field trips to the Robinson Nature Center for Howard County’s Title 1 Schoolwide and Title 1 TAS schools. This request form must be completed for Howard County Title 1 Schools seeking funding for their field trip. (Please read eligibility criteria before submitting.)


Field Trips – Sensory-Friendly and Early Childhood


Sensory-Friendly Nature Study*
All ages / 1 hr, 30 min
Year-round availability on W, Th, F
$9 per participant
This program allows students that benefit from sensory-friendly accommodations to explore nature and make new discoveries in a way that best meets their needs. Hands-on activities, and movement are integrated as we traverse trails, learn about plants and animals, and search for signs of wildlife. Imaginations will run wild as we immerse ourselves in the natural world!
*This field trip is for groups that require special accommodations for a majority of the participants. Nature Center staff coordinates directly with the lead teacher once booked. Group size is limited and determined based on available space, staff, and participant needs. Please also see our website www.howardcountymd.gov/RNC under the Sensory-Friendly Visit section of our "For Visitors" menu for resources including social stories, maps and visual schedules.

Lil’ Puppet Adventure
2-5 years with parent / 1 hr, 30 min
Year-round availability on W, Th, F
$9 per participant
For the littlest nature explorers, this program is perfect. Choose from one of two puppet shows for your program. Participate in a nature walk, games, songs and movement activities. This program is held in the Nature Center auditorium and is limited to 80 students.
Puppet Show choices & age recommendations:
Little Fawn Goes Home (2-5 yrs) - After a day of playing outside, Little Fawn finds herself lost, and away from home. Join her as she travels through habitats and meets different animals on her journey in search of her perfect home.
First Impressions (3-5 yrs) - Tabitha Turtle is new to the forest and begins looking for friends. While making her way through the forest, she encounters animals that she is afraid of until she gets to know them. Sometimes your first impression isn’t always correct.
HCPSS Recommended Field Experience: GK, Q4
NGSS Standards: K-LS1-1, K-ESS3-1

"Great puppet show. I liked the scientific thinking, learning about nature and hands-on experience.”

Discover Nature
Grades Pre-K-1 / 1 hr, 30 min
Year-round availability on W, Th, F
$9 per participant
Expose your students to a variety of sights, smells and sounds in this fun-filled program. Through exploration of animal mounts, fur, skulls and shells, get an up-close experience with nature. Explore what plants and animals need to survive, and the relationship between their needs and where they live. Head out to the trail to discover the mysteries of our environment.
HCPSS Recommended Field Experience: GK, Q4
NGSS Standards: K-LS1-1, K-ESS3-1

“Our group leader was amazing! Her interactions with the children were full of enthusiasm and knowledge, and her communication was very age appropriate.”


Field Trips - Environmental & Historical


Wildlife Wonders
Grades K-4 / 1 hr, 30 min
Year-round availability on W, Th, F
$9 per participant
Animals fascinate. From foxes and finches to frogs and fish, introduce your students to common kinds of animals with an emphasis on the five vertebrate groups (birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians). Investigate the similarities and differences between animal groups through props and mounts. Older students further explore life cycles and gain an understanding of how young animals, particularly amphibians, can differ drastically in appearance from their parents. Search the trails for signs of each type of creature.
HCPSS Recommended Field Experience: GK, Q4; G1, Q1; G2, Q3; G3, Q1 & Q4; G4, Q4
NGSS Standard: K-LS1-1, K-ESS2-2, KESS3-1, 1-LS3-1, 2-LS4-1, 3-LS1-1, 3-LS4-3, 4-LS1-1

Happening Habitats
Grades 1-4 / 1 hr, 30 min
Year-round availability on W, Th, F
$9 per participant
Adaptations are everywhere, and there is no better way to investigate than by examining the organisms found in different locations at the center. Discover how plants and animals have special features and types of coloration that allow them to survive in specific habitats. Compare man-made inventions to features found on plants and animals, and determine how humans and organisms use these features to meet their basic needs. Hike the trail passing various habitat types while examining furs, feathers, seeds and other objects that give clues to the survival of animals and plants that call each habitat “home.”
HCPSS Recommended Field Experience: G1, Q1; G2, Q4; G3, Q1 & Q4; G4, Q4
NGSS Standards: 1-LS1-1, 2-LS4-1, 3-LS4-3 and 4-LS1-1

Have Seeds, Will Travel
Grades 2-4 / 1 hr, 30 min
Year-round availability on W, Th, F
$9 per participant
Plants can’t walk, but they can travel. Discover what plants need to grow, and take part in fun demonstrations showing the methods plants use to disperse their young without the luxury of feet! On our trails, observe the diversity of plants that grow in each habitat as you search for those plants that grow from the same tiny seeds you learned about.
HCPSS Recommended Field Experience: G2, Q4; G3, Q1 & Q4; G4, Q4
NGSS Standards: 2-LS2-2, 2-LS4-1, 3-LS4-3, 4-LS1-1
Maryland E-Lit Standards: 1-4

Water Works
Grades 2-5 / 1 hr, 30 min
Spring and Fall availability on W, Th, F
$9 per participant
Water can affect everything from the efficiency of our buildings to the stability of our landscapes. Use hands-on demonstrations to explore where water comes from and what effects it has on the Earth as it moves through the water cycle. Identify water‘s effects on the landscape, including a closer look at erosion, sedimentation and seasonal changes. Older students further investigate the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) features of the nature center and its property to understand how these features mitigate against some of the negative impacts of weather including storm water run-off and temperature extremes.
HCPSS Recommended Field Experience: G2, G3; G3, Q2; G4, Q3; G5, Q1
NGSS Standards: 2-ESS2-1, 2-ESS2-3, 3-ESS3-1, 4-ESS2-1, 5-ESS3-1, 5-ESS2-1, 5-ESS2-2

Going Buggy
Grades 2-4 / 1 hr, 30 min
Spring and Fall availability on W, Th, F
$9 per participant
Insects are incredible! Through mounts and specimen displays, discover the diverse world of insects. Investigate what sets an insect apart from other invertebrates. Concepts include life cycles, environmental influence, and adaptations. Outside, search for these amazing creatures, discovering the important roles each one plays in maintaining the natural cycles of decomposition and renewal.
HCPSS Recommended Field Experience: G2, Q4; G3, Q1 & Q4; G4, Q4
NGSS Standards: 2-LS2-2, 2-LS4-1, 3-LS1-1, 3-LS3-2, 4-LS1-1, 4-LS1-2

The World to a River-Dweller
Grades 4-7 / 2 hours
Spring and Fall availability on W, Th, F
$12 per participant
Rivers and streams are full of life, and these forms of life can indicate the health of the water body. Examine live macroinvertebrates that exist in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Gain an understanding of food chains and how the smallest of creatures can play a critical role in a stream’s health. Categorize and analyze finds from a segment of the Middle Patuxent River, and investigate run-off with a watershed model. From this learning, draw your own investigative conclusions as to the “health” of the river and how humans can affect the lives of river-dwelling organisms. Students should wear galoshes or shoes they don’t mind getting wet.
HCPSS Recommended Field Experience: G4, Q3 & Q4; G5, Q1 & Q4, Middle School
NGSS Standards: 4-ESS2-1, 5-LS2-1, 5-ESS2-1, 5-PS3-1, 5-ESS3-1, MS-LS2-3, MS-LS2-4, MS-ESS3-3
Maryland E-Lit Standards: 1-4

Changing of the Land
Grades 4-6 / 2 hours
Year-round availability on W, Th, F
$12 per participant
Every piece of land has a past. In this program, journey through the 10,000-year history of our local area, from Native American occupations to the growth of the milling industry and the emergence of Simpsonville Village. Handle artifacts, discover techniques used to piece together past eras and analyze how humans have adapted over time to changing needs. Take part in fun demonstrations including milling grain and using modern-day tools that mimic the Native American hunting atlatl. Hike the trails to discover plants used for traditional medicine, ecofriendly practices used in modern-day land management and the ruins of an 18th century grist mill.
Maryland State Social Studies Content Standards 2-5 for grades 4-6

Unliving Proof
Grades 4-8 / 1 hr, 30 min
Year-round availability on W, Th, F
$9 per participant
Take part in a challenging and fun investigation using the techniques of scientists. Through investigation of mammal skulls, discover how teeth, skull shape and eye placement can unravel the mystery of an animal’s life. In pairs, students handle their own skulls and use a dichotomous key to determine what animals the skulls belonged to. Hike the trails to discover environmental clues that alert you to an animal’s presence.
HCPSS Recommended Field Experience: G4, Q4; Middle School
NGSS Standards: 4-LS1-1, MS-LS2-2, MS-LS4-2

“The instructors knew how to keep the students’ attention while staying positive. That is an art!” - 6th Grade Teacher, Howard County

Water, Water Everywhere
Middle and High School / 2 hours
Available Spring and Fall on W, Th, F
$12 per participant
Conduct temperature, pH, turbidity and chemical testing of the Middle Patuxent River to examine the abiotic components in a freshwater stream that affect stream organisms. Survey the macroinvertebrate population of the stream, and learn which organisms are more sensitive to pollution. Using data from both abiotic testing and biotic sampling, students determine their assessment of the health of the stream and discuss how changes to various components will affect life in the stream.
NGSS Standards: MS-PS1-2, MS-LS2-1, MS-LS2-3, HS-LS4-5, MS.LS2-4, HS.LS2-2, HS.LS2-6
Maryland E-Lit Standards: 1-5

Battlefield Earth
Middle & High School / 1 hr, 30 min
Spring and Fall availability on W, Th, F
$9 per participant
Alien invaders are spreading across the land! This field trip is not only about investigating the invasion, but about taking action to stop it. Discover the impact that invasive species are having on Maryland’s ecosystem. Evaluate the pros and cons to different control methods, and learn about careers in which land management decisions centered on invasive species control are paramount. Take part in a service learning project centered around civic action and invasive species control at the nature center. Students should wear comfortable clothing and be ready to work outdoors.
NGSS Standards: MS-LS2-4, MS-LS2-5, MS-ESS3-3, HS-LS2-6, HS-LS2-7
Maryland E-Lit Standards: 1 - 5


Field Trips - Astronomy


Earth’s Place in Space
Grades 1-2 / 2 hours
Year-round availability on W, Th, F
$12 per participant
The nighttime sky is dynamic but what exactly causes it to change from one evening to the next? While seated in the comfort of our digital planetarium, witness the sunset and watch the transformation of our sky as the stars appear. Young students engage in making observations about the world around them as they see the movement patterns of objects in the sky. View the constellations and hear the stories behind them. Outside of the planetarium, they examine actual meteorites and investigate the surface of Earth’s moon. The majority of this field trip takes place in the planetarium. This field trip is limited to 100 total participants.
HCPSS Recommended Field Experience: G1, Q2
NGSS Standards: 1-ESS1-1, 1-ESS1-2

Starlight, How Bright?
Grades 3-5 / 2 hours
Year-round availability on W, Th, F
$12 per participant
Witness the wonders of the night sky in this immersive planetarium program! Observe the relationship of the Earth to the moon and the Sun. See how Earth’s movement though space causes patterns in the appearance of stars and other celestial objects. Explore the constellations, and learn why stars change position seasonally. Investigate the scale of our solar system and the planets within it. Handle actual meteorites from outer space! The majority of this field trip takes place in the planetarium. This field trip is limited to 100 total participants.
HCPSS Recommended Field Experience: G5, Q2
NGSS Standards: 5-ESS1-1, 5-ESS1-2

Middle School / 3 hours
Year-round availability on W, Th, F
$15 per participant
During this rigorous astronomy field trip, observe the movement of stars through the night sky, compare heliocentric and geocentric models of our solar system, and use shifts in light emission spectra to determine whether stars are moving towards or away from Earth. We’ll look at a star’s hydrogen spectrum using spectroscopes, use the planetarium to demonstrate the Earth’s movement in space and explore the Doppler effect through a hands-on demonstration. Through these investigation, students better understand complex astronomy concepts.
This field trip is limited to 100 participants. If you would like us to accommodate more, please contact the Nature Center directly to review scheduling options.
NGSS Standards: MS.ESS1-1, MS.PS4-1

“Your instructors were great and very informative. Our class loved them! The program is well thought out and executed. The planetarium was especially well-received by the students!” - 5th Grade Teacher, Howard County


Robinson On the Road


Robinson on the Road (Programs brought to your school)
The Nature Center’s staff educators visit your classroom and bring nature to life with touchable materials and fascinating activities. Each program is for up to 30 students and lasts 1 hour. Back-to-back programs may be booked at one location with discounts offered on additional programs. Full offerings are listed below. To book, please fill out the in-school program request form. For booking questions, call 410-313-0410. If you are a Title 1 or Title 1 TSA school, please note that there are a limited number of scholarships available from the James and Anne Robinson Foundation to cover the cost of bringing Robinson on the Road to your school. When booking, please mention your intent to apply for the scholarship. 

Hands-on Nature
Expose your students to a variety of nature’s sights and sounds in the comfort of your own classroom! The Nature Center’s staff lead students in an exploration of animal mounts, fur, skulls, feathers, shells, and more. Your students can get hands-on with nature like never before. Learn what makes a bird a bird and a mammal a mammal as we explore the five different groups of animals with backbones.
HCPSS: GK, Q1 & Q4; G1, Q1; G2, Q4; G3, Q1 & Q4; G4, Q4; G5, Q4
NGSS Standards: K-LS1-1, 1-LS1-1, 2-LS4-1, 3-LS4-3, 4-LS1-2 and 5-LS2-1
K-5th grade / $175 (1st program); $150 (each additional program)

We Are Scientists
Do all scientists wear lab coats? In this engaging program, your class not only learns that there are many different types of scientists, they have the chance to “become” different scientists. Students move between various stations, make observations and manipulate special tools used by scientists. Enjoy watching your students investigate birds, insects, rocks, archaeological objects, and more. This program is a great way to get students excited about science investigations for the remainder of your school year!
HCPSS: GK, Q1; G1, Q1; G2, Q1
NGSS Standards: K-LS1-1; 1-LS3-1; 2-PS1-1
K-2nd grade / $175 (1st program); $150 (each additional program)

Variation Celebration
Why don’t all sunflowers grow to the same height? Why are some turtles’ shells different shapes? Even within a single species of plant or animal, variety exists. The Nature Center staff lead your students in a hands-on exploration that simplifies the complex concept of variation. At stations, students investigate everything from tree branches to insects to skulls in order to determine whether two different specimens are the same species. Students are delighted and surprised as they solve these natural riddles and gain a better understanding of variation among species.
HCPSS: G3, Q1 & Q4; G4, Q4
NGSS Standards: 3-LS3-1; 3-LS3-2, 3-LS4-2, 3-LS4-3, 4-LS1-1
3rd-5th grade / $175 (1st program); $150 (each additional program)

Virtual Power Tour
In this exciting program, investigate your energy use and explore energy sources using virtual reality technology. Travel to the sea floor where oil is extracted and to a farm where wind turbines generate electricity. Visualize what makes fossil fuel non-renewable and inspect the technology that allows renewable energy sources (like wind and the sun) to be converted into energy. Each student will use their own pair of VR goggles as the Nature Center staff guides them in an investigation of our non-renewable fuels and renewable sources.
HCPSS: G4, Q1; G5, Q1
NGSS Standards: 4-ESS3-1; 4-PS3-2, 4-PS3-4, 5-ESS3-1
4th-5th grade / $200 (1st program); $175 (each additional program)

Explore the fascinating world of animal adaptations through hands-on exploration of skulls, pelts and tracks. The Nature Center staff teach students to use these clues to determine how animals may have lived, what they ate, whether they were predators or prey, and how their coats help them survive. Students work in pairs to identify a mystery animal using only its skull, then present evidence on how an animal’s coat is specialized for that species and how it helps them survive.
NGSS Standards: 4-LS1-1
4th-5th grade/ $175 (1st program); $150 (each additional program)

NEW! A Bunch of Bones
We bring hands-on experiences to your students’ genetics learning! Using real world examples of how species have evolved to serve their survival needs, students measure and classify structures of different animal skulls of both predator and prey species. We teach skull ID clues and students determine how specific animals are adapted to their lifestyles as predator or prey by examining eye placement, the presence or absence of a sagittal crest and teeth types.
HCPSS: Middle School & High School
NGSS Standards: MS-LS2-2; HS-LS4-2 and HS-LS4-4
Middle and High School/ $175 (1st program); $150 (each additional program)

NEW! Perplexing Planet Patterns
What can observing celestial bodies tell us about our own planet? Students make observations by watching simulations from our planetarium showing how planet movement appears to change based on the perspective of the observer. Students will model the same planetary movements that Galileo noticed over time. They will use this model as evidence to answer the question of early astronomers: “Is the solar system centered around the Earth or the Sun?”
HCPSS: Middle & High School
NGSS Standards: MS-ETS-1, MS-ETS-2. MS- ETS-3, MS-ETS-4, HS-ESS1-4
Middle and High School/ $175 (1st program); $150 (each additional program)


Virtual Education Programs


Bring the wonder of nature virtually to your students!

  • Hosted through Google Meets or Zoom
  • Most use Nearpod for engaging each student in interactive activities
  • Live interactions with Robinson Nature Center environmental educators
  • Includes a pre-recorded virtual hike or planetarium presentation
  • Accommodates up to 35 students for a  1 hour long experience

Trip Offerings

Wildlife Wonders 
Grades K-4 | $90 per session (1 hour)
From foxes and finches to frogs and fish, introduce your students to common kinds of animals with an emphasis on the five vertebrate groups (birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians). Investigate the similarities and differences between vertebrate groups through props and mounts. Older students further explore life cycles and gain an understanding of how young animals, particularly amphibians, can differ drastically in appearance from their parents. Along your virtual hike, search for signs of each type of creature and meet a live animal along the way.
HCPSS Recommended Experience for:
G2, Q3
G3, Q1 & Q4
G4, Q4
NGSS Standards: K-LS1-1, K-ESS2-2, K-ESS3-1, 1-LS1-2, 1-LS3-1, 2-LS4-1, 3-LS1-1, 3-LS3-1, 3-LS4-3, 4-LS1-1, 4-LS1-2

Happening Habitats
Grades 2-4 | $90 per session (1 hour)
Adaptations are everywhere! Using organisms found throughout the nature center, discover how special features of plants and animals allows them to survive in specific habitats. Compare man-made inventions to features found on plants and animals, and determine how humans and organisms use these features to meet their basic needs. Along the virtual hike, pass through various habitat types while examining clues to the survival of animals and plants that call each habitat “home.”
HCPSS Recommended Experience for: 
G2, Q4
G3, Q1 & Q4
G4, Q4
NGSS Standards: 2-LS4-1, 3-LS4-2, 3-LS4-3 and 4-LS1-1

Starlight, How Bright?
Grades 4-5 | $90 per session (1 hour)
Witness the wonders of the night sky in this virtual planetarium program! In our virtual planetarium, observe Earth’s relationship to our sun and moon. See how Earth’s movement though space causes patterns in the appearance of stars and other celestial objects. Explore the constellations and learn why stars change position seasonally. Investigate the scale of our solar system and the planets within it. Discover different types of stars, what makes them appear brighter or dimmer in our night sky, and how to estimate the number of stars for a given area.
HCPSS Recommended Experience for: G5, Q2
NGSS Standards: 5-ESS1-1, 5-ESS1-2


Nature Treasure Chest Rentals


Open the Lid to Nature Discovery!
Are you a teacher, home school parent or scout leader looking to give your kids a hands-on nature experience? Allow us to introduce the new Nature Treasure Chest Rental program through the Robinson Nature Center.

What are Nature Treasure Chests?
Robinson Nature Center has created four thematic “treasure chests” full of natural objects that bring the wonder of nature into your classroom or home. From pelts and skulls to books and activities, these trunks can provide valuable teaching tools for your nature and science lessons. Nature Treasure Chest themes include: Reptiles & Amphibians, Nocturnal Animals, White-tailed Deer and
Water History & Heritage.

How do I rent a Nature Treasure Chest?
To rent a Nature Treasure Chest, you may contact Robinson Nature Center by phone at 410-313-0400 or visit the Nature Center and request one from our front desk. Nature Treasure Chests are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are rented for two weeks at a time. Payment and
rental agreement required.

What is the cost of renting a Nature Treasure Chest?
Each Nature Treasure Chest can be rented for $35 for a period of two weeks. Additional fees are assessed in the incidence of loss or damage to a trunk item or if the trunk is not returned by its due date.


Scout Programs


Let us help you earn badges!
We can help you earn the badges listed below or other similar badges related to these topics. Programs range between 1.5 and 2 hours depending on requirements.
*Asterisk denotes two-hour programs

Nature Badges
• Eco Learner (Daisy)
• Eco Friend, Bugs*, Senses* (Brownie)
• Flowers*, Animal Habitats* (Junior)
• Trees* (Cadette)
• Water* (Ambassador)
• My Tiger Jungle, In the Wild (Tiger Cub)
• Paws on the Path, Call of the Wild (Wolf Cub)
• Furs, Feathers, and Ferns* (Bear Cub)
• Earth Rocks*, Into the Woods*, Into the Wild* (Webelo)

Space/Planetarium Badges
• Sky is the Limit (Tiger Cub)
• Astronomy (Boy Scout)
• Space Science Explorer (Daisy)
• Space Science Adventurer (Brownie)
• Space Science Investigator (Junior)
• Space Science Researcher, Night Owl (Cadette)
• Sky (Senior)

Sustainability Badges
• Make the World A Better Place, Use Resources Wisely (Daisy)
• LEED Building/Grounds Tour

Outdoor Exploration Badges
• Hiker*, Outdoor Adventurer* (Brownie)
• Geocaching* (Junior)
• Paws on the Path (Wolf Cub)

Science Badges
• Home Scientist (Brownie)
• Super Science (Bear Cub)
• Earth Rocks* (Webelo)

Private Planetarium Experiences
Looking to meet space-themed badge requirements? When booking a planetarium experience for your troop, reservations must be made three weeks or more in advance of the program. The cost includes admission to the nature center for your troop and an hour-long, customized experience
led by an educator in the planetarium to meet badge requirements of your choosing. Each planetarium program can accommodate up to 40 people (scouts/adults/siblings). There is no minimum group size, though the following fees apply:
1 hr private planetarium program:
$15/participant ($250 minimum)
* Participants include all scouts, chaperones, troop leaders and siblings.

Reservations & Pricing
Reservations are required for all programs and must be made at least two weeks in advance. Each scout program can accommodate a max of 20 participants. There is no minimum group size, though there is a minimum fee dependent on program length.
1.5 hr programs: $12/Scout ($120 minimum)
2 hr programs: $15/Scout ($150 minimum)
*All children over the age of 3 will be charged the cost of the program, including siblings. Adults will be charged the $5 admission fee for the Nature Center. Troop leaders are Free.

Cancellation Policy
Cancellation requests must be submitted in writing at least 30 days prior to the scheduled scout program. Cancellation requests received less than 30 days prior to the scheduled date or “no shows” are subject to a 20% administrative fee. The fee is calculated based on the total cost of the scheduled scout program.

Requesting a Scout Program
Scout programs at Robinson Nature Center include admission to the nature center and a naturalist-led program that allows your scout troop to complete requirements necessary for selected badges.


Trainings & Teacher Resources


Robinson Nature Center periodically offers environmental education and natural history training programs throughout the year to teachers, educators and interested members of the general public. Some workshops offered may count towards professional development for schools certifying or re-certifying as Maryland Green Schools.

Workshops offered include:

Growing Up WILD
Project WILD
Getting Little Feet WET
Project WET
Project Learning Tree
Flying Wild

Our next educator training will be Project WET held on January 27, 2024. For more details, or to register, click HERE:

Private and custom training can be scheduled for groups of 10 or more. For more information, or to schedule a custom training, contact 410-313-0400.

For Volunteers


General Information


We are extremely grateful and appreciative of our amazingly skilled volunteers! 

If you would like additional information about volunteer opportunities at the Robinson Nature Center please contact: Shannon Davis at shdavis@howardcountymd.gov

In addition to the volunteer opportunities available at the Robinson Nature Center, the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks has numerous other volunteer opportunities. To find out more about these opportunities, click here.


Volunteer Roles & Requirements


Volunteer Roles

  • Public Programs 
  • Special Events
  • Photography
  • Discovery Cart Docent
  • Representing the Nature Center at Outreach Events
  • Trail Work & Invasive Species Removal
  • Gardening

Volunteer Requirements

  • In-person interview with our Volunteer Coordinator
  • Satisfactory Results of Criminal Background Check – this applies to all Robinson volunteers 18 years of age or older
  • Building Tour with our Volunteer Coordinator
  • Applicable Trainings – there are online trainings that are required before you can volunteer.  Other training will be “on the job” and there are specific trainings with sign up spots in Better Impact that are either in-person or online that allow you to sign up for more variety of volunteer opportunities.
  • Physical requirements – ability to stand for more than one hour, lift 10 to 40 pounds depending on the role, walk unpaved trails
  • Ability to be respectful of others and follow our Volunteer Policies
  • We do not participate in court ordered community service
  • Typical hours – We are open Wednesday through Saturday 9am-5pm and Sunday 12pm-5pm.  We sometimes have volunteer opportunities outside of these hours, but in general our opportunities are during our regular business hours. Volunteer shifts range in length from one to four hours.
  • Age Requirement - All Robinson volunteers must be at least 16 years old. This includes gardening volunteers.
  • Commitment: 5 hours minimum volunteering per year.

Group Conservation Projects


Would you like to bring your corporate, school, or other group to Robinson Nature Center for conservation activities? We run various programs allowing groups to participate in tree plantings and invasive weed removal throughout the year. Please contact Brian Campbell at 410-313-0406 or bcampbell@howardcountymd.gov or call our front desk 410-313-0400.

In addition to the volunteer opportunities available at the Robinson Nature Center, the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks has numerous other volunteer opportunities. To find out more about these opportunities, click here.


Scout Projects & Awards


Scout Group Volunteering
If you are a girl scout or a boy scout troop leader looking for a project, this volunteer opportunity allows your scouts to work together to help the environment! Potential projects include forest and stream clean up, tree plantings, invasive plant removal, trail maintenance and garden work. All groups must sign up in advance and maintain a ratio of 1 leader per 12 scouts. Tools, gloves, and snacks will be provided.

If you are interested in setting up a scout workday, please contact Brian Campbell at 410-313-0406 or bcampbell@howardcountymd.gov

Eagle Scout Awards and Gold/Silver Awards
Please contact Shawnté Berry, Volunteer & Special Projects Manager at sberry@howardcountymd.gov for information about Awards.



Maryland Master Naturalist Certification


The Maryland Master Naturalist Certification and volunteer training program is a special opportunity for volunteers who want to learn about and share knowledge of the natural world in Maryland. Individuals accepted into the program receive 60 hrs + of instruction and participate in field study with natural history experts. Master Naturalists give back 40 hours of volunteer service. Upon completion of the program's requirements, participants are awarded their Certification as a Maryland Master Naturalist. The fee for the certification is $250 and is due to the University of Maryland upon acceptance into the program. 

Master Naturalist Requirements:  

  • Complete 60 hours of classroom and field training
  • Give back, within one year, 40 hours of approved volunteer service to your training site
  • For continued certification, perform 40 hours of approved volunteer service and 8 hours of advanced training annually

For more information about the program, visit the Maryland Master Naturalist Website at: https://extension.umd.edu/masternaturalist

Our 2023 class of Maryland Master Naturalists is full at this time. Our next class will take place in 2025. To be added to the interest list for when applications are being accepted for our 2025 class, or if you have any questions about the Master Naturalist Volunteer Training, please contact Shannon Davis at shdavis@howardcountymd.gov.


Frequently Asked Questions


How often do I have to volunteer?

Starting in 2021, we require that you volunteer five hours per year in order to remain active.  If you have a special circumstance that prevented you from volunteering, please let us know.

Do I need a background check?

Yes, all Robinson Volunteers, including gardeners, must get a background check, unless you are under the age of 18. It must be renewed each year.

How much does the background check cost?

It is free for you!  The county pays for the background check. 

Can I bring my child/children with me while volunteering?

No children are allowed to come with you.  We need you to have your full attention on your volunteering tasks.

Can my child volunteer?

Your child can apply to become a volunteer if they are at least 16 years old.

I have a child who is 16-17 and is a volunteer. Can they volunteer without me?

We accept volunteers starting at age 16. They may volunteer without you being here.

What is the link to log in to Better Impact? 


If I cannot make my shift due to illness, how should I let you know?

Please let us know as soon as possible by calling our front desk at 410-313-0400

Is there a place I can put my belongings while I volunteer?

Yes, we have lockers that you can use and bring your own lock if you like. Or you may bring your belongings with you. We recommend that you not leave valuables in your vehicle in our parking lot.

Can I volunteer with animals?

Once you have reached 25 hours of volunteering at Robinson, and have a staff recommendation, you may be trained to work with our live animals using our Live Animal Discovery Cart.

Do you currently need volunteers for this event or program?

Not at this time.

What should I wear while volunteering?

Please always wear your volunteer T shirt and volunteer badge as well as closed toed shoes and clothing appropriate for the weather.  We like to go outside!

If I have questions, who should I contact?

You may contact Shannon Davis at shdavis@howardcountymd.gov with any volunteer questions. 

If I need computer help to sign up, whom should I contact?

You may contact Shannon Davis at shdavis@howardcountymd.gov with any volunteer questions. We have trainings in Better Impact that you can sign up for if you wish!

Interested in a Rental Venue?


Weddings and Rentals



Celebrate your special day at Robinson Nature Center for your:

  • Small, intimate outdoor ceremony among our 18-acre property
  • Large outdoor ceremony on our Mezzanine Patio
  • Tent our Mezzanine Patio to have an outdoor reception overlooking our forest.
  • Cozy up in our auditorium for a smaller, indoor reception or ceremony
  • Contact the Nature Center Rental Coordinator at 410-313-0410 or
    esizemore@howardcountymd.gov to discuss options and pricing.


The Nature Center offers room rentals and facility package rentals for large events and weddings. Rental requests can be made by calling, 410-313-0400, or visiting the nature center.

To learn more about rental options, read:

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the center open for event rentals?
Events are held Wednesday-Sunday. They may begin as early as 8am and must conclude by or before 11pm. Events occurring outside the regular operating hours have a $60/hour fee.

Is set up and clean up included in my rental time?
Yes. You may only access your rental space during the hours you have paid for as indicated on your permit. All materials must be brought in and removed during that time. The schedule for setup and take down of tent rentals for the mezzanine patio must be approved by the nature center’s rental coordinator in advance. 

Is a security deposit required?
Yes. A refundable security deposit is required for each rental space. The security deposit is a minimum $200 per rentable space or 20% of the total rental fee. The deposit is in addition to the rental fees and is returned upon acceptable condition of the rental space at the end of the event. 

Are there restrictions on decorations?
Yes. Wall and ceiling decorations, helium balloons, confetti, and fireworks are not permitted. Please contact the rental coordinator for special requests.

What is the cancellation policy?
Written notice of a cancellation is due 30 days prior to event. Additional notice may be required for larger events as determined by rental coordinator. Reservations cancelled outside of the 30 days of the event result in a 20% fee.

What am I responsible for when my event is over?
Renters are responsible for removing all decorations and collecting trash. Trash and recycling shall be placed in the appropriate receptacles. A $50 fee (per staff member, every half-hour) is charged for trash pick-up. Spaces should be left in the same condition they were before the start of the event. 


Rental Frequently Asked Questions


When is the nature center open for event rentals?
Event rentals are permissible Wednesday through Sunday. The nature center is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday 9 AM to 5 PM and Sunday 12 PM to 5 PM. Rentals may not begin earlier than 8 AM or end later than 11 PM.

Are there additional fees for after-hours events?
Yes, any rental occurring outside our regular operating hours (Wednesday through Saturday 9 AM to 5 PM and Sunday 12 PM to 5 PM) will incur a $50 per hour administrative fee.

Do I need to include setup and cleanup time in my rental?
Yes, you are allowed access to your rental space only during the hours you have paid for as indicated on your permit. All materials may only be brought in and removed during that time. The schedule for setup and take down of tent rentals for the Mezzanine Patio must be coordinated in advance. We can provide contacts for local tent rental companies at your request.

Is alcohol permitted during event rentals?
Alcohol is permitted to be served within the rental spaces at the Robinson Nature Center with regulation of its service and consumption covered in the facility rental permit. Alcohol may only be sold if a temporary liquor license is obtained from the Howard County Liquor Board.

Is a security deposit required?
A $200 refundable security deposit is required for each rental space. Large event and wedding package rentals have a flat $800 refundable security deposit. Security deposits will be returned upon acceptable condition of the rental space at the conclusion of the permitted event.

What is the cancellation policy for rentals?
Written notice of cancellation is due at least 30 days prior to the event. Additional notice may be required for larger events, as determined by the Rental Coordinator. If the reservation is cancelled more than 30 days before event, a 20% administrative fee will be retained. If the event is cancelled less than 30 days prior to the event, the security deposit and rental fee will be retained.


Birthday Parties Info and Packages


Indoor Birthday Parties Available

  • Saturdays: 10am-noon or 2-4pm
  • Sundays:  2-4pm
  • All options include a $200 security deposit.

If you are interested in more than a room rental for your birthday party, we offer packages that include the following:

  • All of the amenities of a room rental, plus a program led by a staff naturalist. Programs last approx. 30 minutes unless otherwise noted.
  • A complimentary, half-hour prior to your party’s start time to set-up. (Arrive at 9:30am to set up for 10am parties or at 1:30pm for a 2pm parties.)
  • 20 complimentary invitations

Paper decorations, birthday banner and table coverings. (Please note that the decorations and banner are to remain in the room after the party.)

Please note that all packages require a $200 refundable security deposit in addition to package fees.

Birthday party packages are listed in age order. Looking for adult & teen options? Ask about our hike, full-dome movie and live animal programs!


  • C = can book classroom space for party

Nature Puppet Theater
Your little one will be the star of the show in this fun-filled puppet adventure! Let your imagination run wild and watch as our animal puppets come to life! After the puppet show, we’ll follow our puppet friends on a short walk along our trails or through our exhibits to learn about the real animals that live in and around the nature center. This party includes a short, live animal encounter.
Ages: 2 years and up Package cost: $345 C

Butterfly & Bug Bonanza (offered seasonally, between April & October)
Each birthday is a big step in the life of your child. In this birthday program, children discover how butterflies and moths change in different stages of their lives. Each participant dons a pair of wings and takes a journey along our trails or through our exhibits. 
Ages: 3 years and up Package cost: $345 C

Nature Extravaganza
Are you a lover of all things nature? In this birthday program, you’ll hike the trails with a naturalist and discover enchanting seasonal changes that happen each year during your birth month. Go on a seasonal scavenger hunt, play nature-themed games, discover the signs of animals that frequent the trails, encounter natural phenomena and more.
Ages: Appropriate for all ages Package cost: $345 C

Become an astronaut-in-training through exploring outer space in the planetarium! Have fun with a short hands-on activity about space, followed by a 15-minute guided planetarium show to explore our solar system! Add on a planetarium movie to this party for an extra adventure!
Ages: 5 years and up Package cost: $400 C

Winter Wonderland
Enjoy a winter wonderland during any season! In this cold-weather-inspired program, enjoy a winter frolic that we’ve brought indoors for you! Have a “snowball” fight with your guests and go through a winter wonderland obstacle course.
Ages: 3 years and up Package cost: $400 C

Woodland Fairies
Come explore the magic of nature! Learn about the plants, animals and amazing natural phenomena that make up a fairy’s kingdom. Each participant “becomes” a fairy and journeys through Robinson Nature Center’s exhibits or trails searching for signs that fairies, gnomes or other woodland creatures are nearby.
Ages: 3 years and up Package cost: $345 C

Full-Dome Movie Party
Ready to take your birthday party out of this world? This birthday program takes place in the digital planetarium. You and your friends will find yourselves immersed in a full-dome feature film experience. With many films to choose from, you have options that include looking at the stars along with Big Bird and Elmo (One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure) and witnessing the birth of a Star (We Are Stars). List of our full-dome feature films.
Ages: 3 years and up Package cost: $420 C

Jurassic Jamboree
It’s prehistoric party time! Have fun with fossils and other artifacts found in nature. Take a short hike to our dinosaur dig site where you uncover bones just like a paleontologist! Learn about creatures that lived in Maryland long ago, and those that live here today. Enjoy discovering the signs of animals that visit the trails and have a roaring good time!
Ages: 3 years and up Package cost: $345 C

Nature Expedition Challenge
In this exciting birthday program, parents can select from an array of activities that engage children in skills used by early explorers. Activities include learning how to build shelters out of natural materials, learning how to navigate with compasses, survival scenario challenges or safe fire-starting/tending. 
Ages: 6 years and up Package cost: $345 C

Amazing Animals
Can you breathe through your skin, climb a tree with no hands or carry your house on your back? Come discover the animals that can! Through exploration of animal mounts, fur, skulls and shells, get an up-close experience with animals and their amazing abilities. Along the way you’ll get to meet live reptiles and amphibians.
Ages: 4 years and up Package cost: $345 C

Ex-stream Encounters
(Available seasonally from April-October)
Love the water? Why not celebrate down by the river? This extended* party option takes you and your guests down to the Middle Patuxent River to explore life in the stream and splash around! Guests can choose their level of participation; we recommend guests wear clothes and shoes they can get wet, and bring a towel and a change of shoes. In the event of rain, an hour-long indoor experience featuring stream and sea life encounters and fun activities will be substituted. This party lasts 2 and ½ hours to allow time for guests to reach the river. The naturalist-led portion of the program lasts 1 hour and includes the hike to and from the river. Please note trails are unpaved.
Ages: 6 years and up Extended Package cost: $445 C

Birthday Party "Add-Ons"

Looking to extend the fun a little farther? Want us to handle your tableware? Consider one of the following add-ons.

Reptile Encounter
You may add a 15-minute reptile encounter to certain party packages for $40. Your birthday boy/girl and his/her friends can touch and pose with one of our turtles or snakes while learning about what makes it so special! Please note, this does not extend the length of your two-hour party package, but adds an additional 15 minutes of programmed-time to your package. Room rentals and Nature Puppet Theater parties are not eligible for this add-on.

Party Favor Bags
We can provide party favor bags full of goodies from our nature gift shop. Each bag includes a number of items such as a large tumbled stone, a temporary tattoo, a sheet of stickers, and a twig pencil. Items are subject to availability. The cost is $5 per bag for up to 20 bags. Custom gift bags are available at an additional cost. Call 410-313-0400 for details.

Full-Dome Movie
You may add a 30-minute, full-dome movie in our domed-theater and planetarium to a party package for $125. This does not extend the time of your two-hour party package, but adds an additional 30 minutes of programmed time to your package. Please note that room rentals are not eligible for this add-on.

Lawn Games
For birthday parties in our outdoor area, we offer a selection of lawn games that you can set up and use during your party. The cost is $50, and all lawn games must be returned at the end of your event.

Compostable Tableware
Reduce your party’s eco-footprint! The center can provide compostable tableware and arrange for collection and deposit at Howard County’s industrial composting site.
Cost: $10 for 10 settings Note: Setting includes 9 in. dinner plate, 6 in. dessert plate (can be substituted with a bowl), 9 oz. cup, spoon, fork, and knife.


Birthday Parties Frequently Asked Questions


By when do I need to sign the permit for my birthday party?
We request that you sign and return your permit one week from the date you book the party. You MUST sign and return your permit no later than 30 days in advance of the party. If we do not receive the signed permit 30 days in advance, the permit will be cancelled. If booking a party less than 30 days in advance of the event, your permit will need to be signed at the time you book the party. You may drop off, fax, mail or scan & email your signed permit. Fax to 410-313-0409 and call 410-313-0400 to confirm the fax was received.

What is your rescheduling policy?
You may reschedule one time prior to 30 days in advance of the event with no penalty. Rescheduling less than 30 days in advance of the event is considered a cancellation.

What is your cancellation policy?
If you cancel your party more than 30 days in advance of the event, you will be refunded your deposit and payment minus a 20% administrative fee. If you cancel your party or need to reschedule the party less than 30 days in advance of the event, no refunds will be issued. If you are rescheduling the party, Robinson can transfer your deposit to the new date. You will be responsible for paying the price of the birthday party package or room rental for the new date.

Can I arrive early to set-up? 
Birthday party packages provide a complimentary half-hour prior to the rental time listed on the permit. You may arrive a half-hour early to set-up, but please do not arrive earlier as we will not be able to accommodate your set-up any earlier. If you are renting a room only, your set-up time must be included in your rental time.

Can I stay later than the time listed on my permit to clean up? 
Time for cleanup is included in your 2 hour birthday party package. If you must stay later than the time listed on your permit, you will need to pay for the additional time or it will be taken out of your deposit. If you are renting a room only, your clean-up time must be included in your rental time.

If I have more than 40 guests, what do I do? 
Please note that maximum occupancy of the birthday rooms (40 people) is set and enforced by the Office of the Fire Marshal. Any violations could result in fines. If you would like to invite more than 40 guests, please speak to the Rental Coordinator about renting a larger space. If more than 40 guests arrive on the day of your party, only 40 will be permitted to enter the birthday party room.

What types of decorations are allowed and who decorates the room? 
For birthday party packages, we decorate the room with non-helium balloons and a birthday banner before you arrive. If you would like additional decorations, you are welcome to set them up during your complimentary half-hour set-up time. However, hanging decorations from the walls or ceiling is not permitted. No helium balloons.

Why can't I bring helium balloons? 
Please do not bring helium balloons as our ceilings are high and helium balloons are difficult to recover once they escape. 

Why can't I hang things on the walls or from the ceiling? 
Please do not hang things on the wall or from the ceilings. Tape from decorations can strip paint and the ceiling tiles can be easily damaged.

What am I required to do for clean-up?
You must complete your clean-up by the end time listed on your permit. Before you leave, you must ensure all trash from the party is in the trash or recycling bin, the floors have been swept and the tables have been wiped down. Broom and paper towels are provided. We will take the trash out to the dumpsters.

Are there options to tie my child’s gifts to the Nature Center?
Yes! In lieu of gifts, your child may ask their friends to contribute toward an animal sponsorship in the child’s name, which benefits the child and our resident animals.

What films can I select for a Planetarium Birthday Party Package or Add-On?
Please see the Planetarium information section for a listing of films you can choose from.

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