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Lisa Sons, Natural Resource Coordinator

Are you interested in planning a guided hike for your school or scout field trip? School or youth groups of 30 people or less can be accommodated onsite during June through October, Mondays through Fridays, between the times of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Please complete and email the Program Request Form below to Natural Resource Coordinator, Lisa Sons at  

Field Trip Information

IDNR Educational Resource Trunks

Educational trunks on various topics such as trees, birds, pollinators, and more are available at the Visitor Center for loan.  Please view the IDNR Division of Education page to learn more!  Trunks may be reserved by emailing  Trunks are an educational resource for educators to utilize on their own with their group or classroom either offsite or onsite at the park.  

  • Trees
  • Birds
  • Insects
  • Pollinators
  • Fossils
  • Mammals
  • State Symbols
  • Prairies
  • Amphibians
  • Field Trip Backpack
  • Aquatic Resources

Activity Permits

(Required for all Groups of 20 or more People)

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Office of Land Management requires any group of 20 or more persons who use Department facilities to have advance written permission from the Site Superintendent.

Regardless of group size, the Department may require additional liability coverage to be provided through an Activity Permit. Release of Liability can be used if your organization, family, or school does not have liability insurance. Site managers may deny the request if the facilities are not adequate to handle the size of the group if public health or safety might be compromised, if the liability risk to the Department is too great, or if there would be adverse impacts on natural resources at the site.

Activity Permits are to be used whenever a non-traditional use of any facility is requested (for example - a family reunion in the picnic area) and/or any activity that might increase potential liability to the Department (for example - search and rescue teams practicing on rock faces). These requests need to be made at least 21 days in advance of the activity and forwarded to the Regional Office for processing.

Activity Permit

Release of Liability

Guidelines for Completing Activity Permits

  1. Complete the Activity Permit at least 2-3 weeks before the scheduled visit and email the permit to 

        A $25 permit fee is due the day of your group's visit in the form of cash or check to the IDNR at the front desk of the Starved Rock Visitor     Center. 

  2. Acquire Proof of Liability Insurance (business, school, or organization can ask their administrator or main office) or have each participant sign the Release of Liability Form ahead of time.

  3. Email, mail, or drop off the completed Activity Permit and Proof of Liability Insurance together (if you do not have proof of liability insurance you can complete the Release of Liability Waiver to turn in at the front desk of the Starved Rock Visitor Center the day of your visit) to at least 2-3 weeks before the scheduled visit.
            Starved Rock State Park Visitor Center
            PO Box 509
            Utica, IL 61373

  4. The Site Superintendent will respond within 2-3 weeks from the time the permit was handed in with an approval or denial of the group visit through email ( or phone at 1-815-667-4726.  


Junior Ranger Program

Hey, kids! Starved Rock now has a Jr. Ranger program! Jr. Ranger booklets are available to pick up at the Starved Rock Visitor Center during regular operational hours from 9-4 daily (closed on holidays from November through March).

Booklets are designed for kids ages 5 through 13. Activities within these booklets can be completed using displays and exhibits inside the visitor center and hiking trails within the park. Completed booklets can be turned in to the front desk at the visitor center before 3:30 p.m. daily.   Those who complete the Junior Ranger booklet requirements will receive a Junior Ranger badge and prize!

Seasonal Educational Packets

Educational Packets for Parents and Young Naturalists

Starved Rock Sapling's seasonal packets are filled with activities and resources that children can use onsite at Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Parks or at home!  Parents, guardians, and educators can utilize each educational packet to help their young naturalists discover, connect, and explore the outdoor world.  

Programs for Young Naturalists

Young naturalists and their parents/guardians may also want to register for the Starved Rock Sapling programs on the 2nd Saturday of June through November!  Each program is based on a nature theme and involves a storybook, discovery lesson, and activity or craft.  The programs are free but registration is required by emailing Lisa Sons at at least 1 week prior to each program

Each program begins at 9:30 a.m. and occurs in the Eagle Roost Cabin directly behind the Starved Rock Visitor Center.  Each 1-hour program is led by a park or volunteer naturalist.  Parents/guardians must stay with their children for the duration of the program, please. 

Starved Rock Sapling Programs

  • 12/9/23 Nature's Noel 
  • 6/8/24 The Wonder of Wetlands
  • 7/13/24 One Fish, Two Fish...Fish Fun
  • 8/10/24 Forest Friends
  • 9/14/24 Endangered Species
  • 10/12/24 Sow Many Seeds!
  • 11/9/24 Ice Age Mammals