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Wisconsin Explorer Program

Wisconsin State Park System

A young girl looks at a caterpillar.
This year, kids all over Wisconsin are solving mysteries!

Share nature with your children

Today, many children are growing up in structured environments that don't allow much time or freedom to play outdoors. By helping them connect to things they discover in nature, you nurture values of good stewardship and build strong bonds that will last for a lifetime.

Make tracks to the nearest state park property and ask for a free Wisconsin Explorer booklet. Inside you'll find nature activities, scavenger hunts, games, hikes and crafts to help you explore Wisconsin's great outdoors. Kids who complete the requirements will earn collectible state symbol patches. Don't just sit there - get out and start exploring together!

Collect all nine patches 

Kids can earn a different patch every year. Kids who start the program at age three can collect all nine state symbol patches.

Wisconsin Explorer patches

  • Ages 3-5
    • American robin – state bird
    • Honeybee – state insect
    • Sugar maple – state tree
  • Ages 6-8
    • Muskellunge – state fish
    • Whitetail deer – state wildlife animal
    • Red granite – state rock
  • Ages 9+
    • Wood violet – state wildflower
    • American badger – state animal
    • Trilobite – state fossil

Wisconsin Explorer program grows with kids

There are three age levels in the Wisconsin Explorer program (3-5 years, 6-8 years and 9 years and up). Three themes help kids explore different parts of the great outdoors. With nine booklets, a three-year-old can begin the program this year and participate until age eleven without repeating a booklet.

Pick up a booklet and start exploring!

Wisconsin Explorer books are available at most state parks, forests and recreation areas. The program is designed and funded for each child to complete one booklet and earn one patch each year. To preview or download a booklet, select the cover that matches the age of your child.

Booklet for ages 3-5 Booklet for ages 6-8 Booklet for ages 9 and up
Booklet for ages 3-5 [PDF] Booklet for ages 6-8 [PDF] Booklet for ages 9 and up [PDF]

Complete the program and request a patch

1. Complete at least half of the explorations at a park or at home.

  • Ages 3-5: Complete 5 to 10 of the explorations.
  • Ages 6-8: Complete 6 to 11 of the explorations.
  • Ages 9+: Complete 7 to 14 of the explorations.

2. Attend a nature program or take a nature hike.

3. Do something that will help nature or the park:

  • Ages 3-5: Pick up litter, clean up your campsite or invite birds into your yard (see page 14).
  • Ages 6-8: Pick up litter, or look for signs of wear and tear (page 18).
  • Ages 9+: Pick up litter, take a nature hike, or check your green score (pages 22-23).

4. After completion of the program, you and your child can fill out the evaluation/patch request form in the booklet:

 5. To receive a patch, turn the form in at any participating state park system property!


(If a property office is closed during your visit, you mail the form to: Wisconsin Explorer Program; Wisconsin DNR - Office of Communications; 101 S. Webster St.; Madison, WI 53703).

    Educators and youth leaders

    The Wisconsin Explorer program is designed for individual children visiting state properties with family members or adult friends. As an educator, you are invited to use Wisconsin Explorer booklets and activities with children in your class or group. However, children in these groups cannot earn patches.

    Educators and youth leaders can download the booklet PDF files or request one hard copy of each booklet. Permission is granted to copy individual activities, journal pages or entire booklets as long as copyright information remains on each page.