Chicago River Schools Network

Welcome to River Education

1. This is my first time here...

2. I’m a teacher, and I want to explore the Chicago River…

3. I’ve been here before… but I am now looking for more...

4. I’m an Adopt A River teacher

The Chicago River Schools Network (CRSN), provides K-12 teachers the training and personalized assistance they need to immerse their students in the turbulent history, evolving ecology, and improving health of the Chicago River. The story we tell will engage, provoke, and inspire all those we teach to increase their awareness of, empathy toward, and actions benefiting the Chicago River ecosystem, including the plant, animal and human communities which are of a part of it. The river is a dynamic source of real-world information to teach about water, science, history and culture in the classroom. It is also an excellent tool for hands-on scientific experimentation, water quality monitoring, art/writing projects, and ecological restoration for students of all ages.

View a short presentation (just 12 slides) about the Chicago River Schools Network.

This is my first time here...

Consultations, lesson planning, river curricula, and other educational materials are FREE to K-12 schools within the Chicago River watershed.

To request a FREE consultation, please complete the CRSN NEW TEACHER QUESTIONNAIRE. After completing the survey, please contact our education staff so that we are aware of it.

All services that require the presence of a Friends' staff member, such as leading a field trip or guest speaking in your classroom are fee-for-service. Adopt a River Schools program participants may be eligible to receive services free. All other schools will be charged programming fees.


  • Field Trips: $200 for one hour (+ an additional $50 for every additional hour).
  • Guest speaking and classroom presentations: $100 per hour

Community groups, non-CRSN schools (those located outside the Chicago River watershed), universities, for-profit organizations, and some non-profits will have associated fees for programming. Please contact our education staff for details and/or clarification.

I’m a teacher, and I want to explore the Chicago River…

Do you want professional development (whether you’re a teacher or not)?
Do you want to borrow materials from our library?
Do you want a comprehensive river curriculum?
Do you want to teach a river unit?*

*We strongly encourage teachers to include more than one of the listed components into a river unit. Be as creative as you want (Example: An in-class speaker, a river field trip and two lessons (pre & post trip).

I’ve been here before… but I am now looking for more...

We are willing to provide ongoing and individualized assistance for educators. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, always feel free to contact our education staff.

Mark Hauser welcomes a group on a field trip to the Chicago River
Photo by Brittany Harthan

“The value of this program is immeasurable. My students learn an appreciation for nature, plus they gain confidence in how they can make a positive difference. I have never had a student regret going on the trip - in fact they talk about it for days afterwards and want to go again the next year.”

Caterina Plummer, Schurz High School