Field Trip

City Field Trips Quick INFO:

  • All tours and field trips are FREE and tailored to fit group needs.
  • Tours and field trips are offered for all ages and grades. (except where noted)
  • Tours are available only on weekdays during regular business hours.

Our goal at the City of Columbia, MO – Office of Sustainability is to educate the community on what it means to be sustainable. The change we seek is a better-informed community. The more we are able to educate and inspire, the greener our city will become. We hope to help grow Columbia and the greater Boone County region into a truly sustainable community, through the efforts of our education and outreach program. 

Environmental sustainability is one of the most important challenges facing future generations.  Investing time and funds in these issues is not a trend, but a lifestyle. The Office of Sustainability works to educate young and old, on campus, in the community, and throughout Boone County and beyond.

Staff contact information provide below within each field trip description. 



3M Hinkson/Flat Branch Wetlands – Field Trip

Grade Levels Accepted:  K-12

Trip Length: 4.5-hour trip

Days Accepting Tours:  Monday-Friday

Max Number of Students per Trip:  50+ students

Contact Person:  Michael J. Heimoscreate new email 

Phone: 573-817-6447

Students can observe the wildlife and learn about the importance of wetlands and their function in the protection of our water cycle. In fact, has the 3M Hinkson/Flat Branch Wetlands listed as a world “hot spot” for bird sightings!

Part of the field trip involves a walking tour of the 1.25-mile loop trail around the wetlands. Stationed along the wetland trail are twenty-four educational signs about the construction of the 3M wetlands, the wildlife, native plants and the adjacent historical M.K.T Trail. These educational and informational signs are incorporated into an educational scavenger hunt.

Students search for clues on the 3M Wetlands Educational Scavenger Hunt.

Students receive a presentation by the City’s Stormwater Educator, then learn about recycling from the City’s Recycling Educator and after, head out along the nature trail for a scavenger hunt in search of clues! Arrangements need to be pre-made with your principal for onsite bag lunches.

Classroom Materials: Educational videos about the 3M Hinkson/Flat Branch Wetlands:

3M Wetland – Construction of the Hinkson/Flat Branch Creek Wetland: opens in a new window Part One

3M Wetland – Environmental impact of the Hinkson/Flat Branch Creek Wetland Project:  opens in a new windowPart Two

3M Wetland – Bird Patrol @ Hinkson/Flat Branch Creek Wetland:  opens in a new windowPart Three

3M Wetland – Anatomy of a stream:  opens in a new windowPart Four

Classroom Materials: Websites

3M Flat Branch – Hinkson/Flat Branch Creek Wetlands:  opens in a new windowInterpretive Signs

3M Wetlands:  opens in a new windowMKT Trail History


Stormwater Main Website –    opens in a new windowStormwater Education page

Classroom Activities:

Lesson 1:  Do You Know Your Watershed?

Lesson 2:  opens in a new windowThe Great Pacific Garbage Patch  

Lesson 3: All About Water!




Drinking Water Plant – Field Trip

Have you ever wondered where your water comes from that you use every day for drinking, cooking, and bathing?  Where does it go after you use it each time?  Columbia’s Water Plant invites you to explore how your drinking water is produced. You’ll learn about the processes and the testing that goes on to ensure that your water is clean and safe when it comes out of the tap.

Grade Levels Accepted:  K-12

Trip Length: 1-hour tour

Max Number of Trips Available:  10-12

Days Accepting Tours:  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

Max Number of Students per Trip:  25 students at a time but willing to stagger times

Contact Person: Kevin Wigginscreate new email 

Phone: 573-874-CITY

Other Information: Location requests close to 1:5 adult to student ratio when possible.

Educational video:

Learn more about Columbia’s Water Plant 

Classroom Activities:

Lesson 1:  opens in a new windowHands-on Activity: Clean Enough to Drink: Making Devices to Filter Dirty Water

Lesson 2: Pump It! Design-Build-Test Helpful Village Water Pumps




Waste Water Treatment Plant- Field Trip (NO TOURS UNTIL 2021)

Sorry, due to construction on-site tours are canceled until 2021. Please view the educational materials below for more information about the plant. Guest speakers in the classroom can give a POWERPOINT tour upon request. See the contact information below.

Awaken your senses while marveling at the various physical, chemical, and biological processes employed at the Columbia Wastewater Treatment Plant.  Have you ever wondered what happens to the dirty water from your shower, laundry, and toilet after it goes down the drain? Find out by taking a free tour of the City of Columbia’s Waste Water Treatment Plant. You’ll learn about the history of wastewater treatment in Columbia, MO and learn how our local sewer system functions. Plus, hear some tips on preventing pollution of our local creeks and streams.

Grade Levels Accepted:  2 – 12 

Trip Length: 1.5-hour tour 

Days Accepting Tours: NONE 

Max Number of Students per Trip:  50 students at a time

Contact Person:  Tours CLOSE at this time

Phone: Contact us for a classroom visit @ 817-6447

POWERPOINT TOUR INFO: Michael J. Heimoscreate new email

Educational video:

A  opens in a new windowWalking Tour of Waste Water Treatment Plant in Columbia, Missouri

Classroom Materials:

Sewer Utility Overview:  opens in a new windowHistory of Sewer Utility

Learn about the Wastewater  opens in a new windowTreatment Process

Classroom Activities:

Lesson 1: Hands-on Activity: Shades of Gray(water)

Lesson 2: Biorecycling: Using Nature to Make Resources from Waste




Landfill, Recycling & Bioreactor – Field Trip

Environmental education is important to the communities we serve. For more than 35 years, The City of Columbia Landfill, Recycling Center Facility and Bioreactor has been operating and promoting sustainable programs that encourage the community and residents to become better stewards of the environment. The educational landfill tour consists of an up-close look at the daily landfill operations, environmental control systems, recycling programs, and recycling best practices. 

Grade Levels Accepted:  K-12

Trip Length: 2-hour tour

Days Accepting Tours:  Monday-Friday

Max Number of Students per Trip:  20 students at a time but willing to stagger times

Contact Person:  Adam Whitecreate new email 

Phone: 573-874-CITY

Other Information:  Morning tours are preferred but not required. All visitors must wear closed-toe shoes. Tours are welcome any day of the week.  However, Fridays are designed for minor tasks so there will be less happening but this also means less machinery moving and quieter.

Classroom Activities:


Lesson 1: 3RC (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Compost)

Lesson 2: Design a Recycling Game!

Lesson 3: Make Your Own Recycled Paper

Educational video: How Recycling Works


Lesson 1: Solid Waste Takes Over

Lesson 2:  Composting – Nature’s Disappearing Act

Landfill Bioreactor 

Lesson 1: This Landfill Is a Gas!

Educational video: Modern Marvel: Landfill Bioreactors





Columbia Power Plant – Field Trip

What is “The Grid?” How do we get electricity to our houses? Your community-owned electric utility, Columbia Water & Light, invites you to tour the site of its original facility on Business Loop 70. Providing a significant source of locally generated electricity since 1904, the power plant’s tour historic setting is a unique opportunity to see how electricity is generated and how the facility continues to change through time.

Grade Levels Accepted:  4-5

Trip Length: 1.5-hour tour

Days Accepting Tours:  Monday-Friday

Max Number of Students per Trip:  25 students at a time but willing to stagger times

Contact Person: Christian Johanningmeiercreate new email 

Phone: 573-874-CITY

Classroom Materials:

Power Utility Overview: Columbia’s Electric Utility

Classroom Activities:

Lesson 1: Powering Smallsburg

Lesson 2: Solar Power

Lesson 3: Pointing at Maximum Power for PV



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