​Field Trips and School Programs

Historic Yates Mill County Park provides a wide variety of programs designed to enrich children's learning and classroom experiences. All of our educational programs are designed to be compatible with the North Carolina Standard Course of Study.

Until we can gather again in person, the staff of Historic Yates Mill County Park is excited to be offering engaging online programs and virtual field trips. Schools and other organized groups can get an interactive, educational experience from the safety and comfort of their own homes, while a variety of online activities are available to everyone through our Parks from Home webpage, such as audio podcasts, instructional videos, and activity sheets. Go to the Yates Mill from Home webpage.

Our virtual field trips include both Online Park Explorer Packs through Google Slides and live, Yates Mill educator-led presentations. Staff plan to develop a variety of Explorer Pack options over time but currently have the first one available on “Mill Power” and simple machines. This pack is available in Google Classroom-ready format which educators can embed into their own online classes and includes diverse theme-based activities such as audio recordings and videos, interactive diagrams, and activity sheets, among others.

Our staff-led, online interactive sessions can be conducted using either Zoom or Google Meet. These sessions last about 30 minutes and are designed to complement the Online Park Explorer Packs. Students will need internet access and either a computer, tablet, or phone to join the presentation.

All virtual field trips must be scheduled in advance. Interested groups of 10 people or more are encouraged to contact our Park Technician Jack Singley at yatesmill@wakegov.com or to call the park at 919-856-5638 with any questions, to receive the link to the Park Explorer Pack, and/or to schedule your virtual field trip.


Trained docents and education staff lead groups through the historic site and park. All of the programs and tours at Historic Yates Mill County Park feature inquiry-based learning, a variety of interactive group activities and tours, and hands-on experiences that both enchant and educate.
Kids mill tour inside with William for web.jpg

Tours inside the old water mill are typically available from March through November each year, while other programs are available year-round. Mill tours are not available on the third Thursday and Friday, nor on the fourth Monday, of each month when the mill is being prepped for, and cleaned up from, weekend corn milling demonstrations.

Note that our available programming time slots for groups fill up quickly and we are typically booking school field trips, mill tours, and other guided experiences in the park at least a quarter of a year to a half a year ahead of time.
We encourage you to reach out to us about your program requests as early as possible and suggest that you have a few potential programming dates selected when you call to book a park experience.

To schedule a field trip (when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted):

First, download and read the

Yates Mill Group Educators Guide_March 2020.pdfYates Mill Group Educators Guide

Then call our Group Program Coordinator, Jack Singley:

919-856-5638, or email your request to jack.singley@wakegov.com.

For more details, view:



What could your customized field trip be like? Here's an idea...

Experience History at Wake County’s Last Water Mill
A guided tour of our 18th-century mill provides a unique experience where participants become “History Detectives” while investigating the Mill’s water-powered operations and its business and social roles in the community.
Explore the Outdoors in Our 174-Acre Nature Refuge
Hiking the park trails and exploring the millpond awaken the senses and invigorate the spirit. Trained naturalists can serve as guides and provide program participants with enjoyable and immersive natural experiences.
Let Us Help You to Meet Your Curricular Goals
Organized programs and discovery labs are available for groups of all ages. The park’s school-age programs enrich children's learning and classroom experiences, are inquiry-based, and are compatible with the NC Standard Course of Study.
Engage in Fun and Educational Hands-on Activities
A visit to the park center’s exhibit hall with its interactive displays, group scavenger hunt, and historic dress-up area ensures that a good time is had by all, and self-guided activities and discovery packs can add to the fun.
Pre- and Post-Visit Activities and Resources


Pre and post activities group program cover.JPG
For Elementary Grades:

A collection of fun multi-disciplinary activities to get your group ready to visit the old water mill:


Pre- and Post-Visit ActivitiesPre- and Post-Visit Activities


For Middle School: 5-Day Curriculum

This is a curriculum assembled by a team of students from the Technology, Engineering, and Design Education department at North Carolina State University. Provided are Lesson Plans for four days of classroom activity and one visit to the Historic Yates Mill County Park. Each lesson plan is 75 minutes, tailored to fit a middle school on block scheduling.

For All Ages:

The Grist Mill” is a poem that was published by David Madden in 2009 in a book on Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts entitled “SPRUNG FROM THE SOIL.”

Classroom Discovery Program Details




These are some of the replica props that are used during Historic Yates Mill County Park's "Artifact Discovery" group program (e.g., coins, paper money, playing cards, hornbook, battledore, quill pen and ink well, a woman's work cap and a gentleman's tricorn hat and haversack). This program compares objects of today to artifacts of the past and includes actual Yates Mill artifacts where participants are challenged to figure out what they were historically used for and whether similar objects are still around today.



Learn about staple grains and the nutritional values of whole wheat and white breads, and explore flour production, grain domestication and plant seed germination during our "A-Maize-ing Grains" classroom discovery program. Participants experiment with six different types of grain and try to grind them up in wooden mortars and pestles to see which are the easiest and hardest to mill. Participants make a "living necklace" using one of the types of grain to take home, where with proper care they can watch their baby plant grow.


Our "Hand Mills and Millstones" program includes hands-on use of several primitive hand mills, including this Saddle Stone, along with a Mortar and Pestle and a Rotary Quern. Millstones and their dressing patterns (i.e., lands and furrows) are also explored. (Visit the mill to see a water-powered set of millstones.) Participants explore the ancestral forms of corn and wheat and discover how people have processed them into food and other materials over time. Participants thresh wheat by hand, see a winnowing demonstration and think about what can be made from by-products such as wheat straw and corn husks.


Some of the models and teaching aids that are used during Historic Yates Mill County Park's "Simple Machines and Power Trains" classroom discovery lab. This program explores basic engineering aspects of our historic mill and the systems of system and complex machines that make it work. Participants help build a simple machines flow chart and explore what types of machines are incorporated into everyday objects, then they rotate through different stations to work with these wooden models. The program wraps up with a challenge involving simple machines found inside Yates Mill.


Some of the animal pelts and replica skulls that are used in the "Animal Adaptations" program shown are Gray and Red Fox, River Otter and White-tailed Deer; we also use Raccoon, Opossum, Beaver, Muskrat and Squirrel. Owl, Hawk and Songbird skulls are used to compare to the head structures of these mammals. Participants are challenged to figure out what mystery animal they have at their classroom station using these objects then move around the room to see what everyone else was studying. Natural items are acquired from reputable sources and are documented on a U.S. Fish and Wildlife collection permit.


The park's "Habitat Hike" program is a naturalist-guide and field excursion where participants learn the five basic components of a successful habitat and the types of plants and animals that are found within them.  Participants can borrow binoculars (instructions on how to use them are provided) before heading out into the 174-acre park for a short hike to explore the various components of habitats that are required for specific animals. Park habitats include the pond, pond edge, beaver dams and wetlands, old field and oak/hickory forests, north-facing high bluff and the old homestead.


In the park's "Pond Study" program, we guarantee that participants will have an immersive experience (they should expect to get wet and dirty – it's a muddy affair!) while studying the pond and the life that exists in it, both large and small. Participants will collect pond water samples and study the critters (i.e., the macro-invertebrates) that are found in it, using magnifiers and field microscopes. Working in small teams that report back to each other, participants will study location, weather, habitat type, among other environmental aspects. This program is weather and flood dependent!