Youth and Education

The Ice Age Trail is an educational trail by nature. The glacial features and multitude of biomes created by the glaciers are natural classrooms all throughout Wisconsin. The Ice Age Trail takes hikers past these environments and truly provides a lifetime of learning.

We believe strongly in sharing this natural story with tomorrow’s leaders as they realize the mental and physical benefits of enjoying a stroll on the Ice Age Trail. We work with youth, schools and community groups through a variety of venues.

These include school presentations, assisting students one-on-one with classroom projects, or a more comprehensive effort. We have two main avenues for the latter: Saunters and service learning.


Our Saunters program aims to honor Henry David Thoreau’s statement – “It is a great art to saunter” – while infusing core educational concepts into trips on the Ice Age Trail. The program is a collaboration between the Alliance and school districts and community groups across Wisconsin dedicated to taking youth on hikes.

While on these adventures, young people take part in a variety of activities connected to the Common Core and/or Wisconsin Model Academic Standards, all while sauntering up to 8 miles per day.

In addition to the real-world education, Saunterers benefit from the physical activity of extensive hikes. They gain confidence and improve their physical and mental well-being.

How We Help

Our staff and volunteers work collaboratively with groups to carry out successful Saunters programs. Here’s a description of that work:


Hikes are scheduled within 1 hour of the starting point and focus on core academic concepts. Most hikes also connect with the Alliance’s ColdCache program. Saunters programs range from 5 unique hikes to 4-day backpacking courses. They are held throughout the year, and each program is designed to meet the needs of the participating group.


Our staff work closely with group leaders to seek out and apply for funding, reducing costs for youth and ensuring adequate educational materials. At the minimum, each student receives a copy of the Ice Age Trail Guidebook, a custom Saunters t-shirt and bus transportation.

Educational ResourcesCompanion Guide for Sauntering_cover

You can download the Companion Guide for Sauntering – an Ice Age Trail journal [PDF] for students and children to use as they explore the Ice Age Trail. A collaboration of Alliance staff, Saunters teachers and volunteers developed the guide, which covers core concepts related to the natural environment and activities students can complete on the Trail.

All activities are connected to the Common Core and/or Wisconsin Model Academic Standards. A guide for hike leaders that details the connections to Common Core and Wisconsin Model Academic Standards is also available.

In addition to the notebook, IATA staff and volunteers routinely provide classroom presentations prior to Saunters expeditions.

Interested in developing a Saunters program in your area?

We are always excited about expanding the Saunters program to get more young people out on the Trail. New programs are added annually. Please contact Amy Lord at [email protected] if you are interested in taking a saunter.

Service Learning

We strongly believe in providing opportunities for young people to contribute to their communities through volunteerism along the Ice Age Trail. There are many ways for youth groups to volunteer with the Alliance, whether through working with a local volunteer chapter, joining a Mobile Skills Crew event, or working with our staff to tailor an event that meets your community’s needs.

Our hard-working volunteers love a helpful hand to care for the Ice Age Trail, but the service part of service learning takes a back seat to the knowledge young people gain through service work on the Trail. Academic concepts vary by the type of work being done. Examples include concepts based on prairie restoration, landscape architecture, safety, event panning and more. We tailor the objectives to meet the needs of participating groups.


If you’re interested in learning more about Saunters, service learning or other educational opportunities, contact Outreach and  Education Manager, Amy Lord at [email protected] or (608) 798-4453 x233.