Historic Yates Mill County Park offers public, educational programs for all ages year-round. Visit our Calendar of Events and sign up for our E-Newsletter to stay up to date!

 
 

Looking for Guided Tours of Historic Yates Mill? View the Mill Tours page.

Looking for Organized Group Programs? View the Group Programs page.

Interested in Volunteer Opportunities?  Check out the Volunteers-in-Parks page.

Scroll down or select a program series below to learn more about our offerings:
 
Now Available!
Ready to sign up? Register online for public programs.
Search for programs by location, age, date and more!
 
 

For a printout of quarterly programs and events, and for a paper copy of the Wake County parks program registration form, refer to the program bulletin below.

  
 
The following programs are offered at Historic Yates Mill County Park, 4620 Lake Wheeler Road, Raleigh, NC 27603. For more information, contact the park at 919-856-6675 or email yatesmill@wakegov.com.
 
Our staff also offers public programs at Crowder District Park.
Check out the Crowder programs page for details.
 
Do you want to see Wake County's last remaining water-powered gristmill in action?
Corn grinding demonstrations with 19th century costumed guides takes place on the third weekend of each month through November. Details are on our Mill Tours page. 
 
NC State University’s Farm Animal Days
Wednesday–Friday, March 29–31, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.
Farm Animal Days gives children a chance to see and touch farm animals and learn about agriculture; tractors will also be on display, and there will be a Yates Mill park exhibit. The event is designed for school field trips (preschool through first grade), but families and individuals are welcome to attend. The event takes place at NC State University's Beef Educational Unit at 4505 Mid Pines Road (2 miles south of I-40). More information here.
 
The Ross L. Andrews Nature Poetry Contest
Entries due March 31; Award Ceremony April 21 at the Park
Ross Andrews was a young environmental educator who found that poetry was the path to express his passion for the beauty, wonder, awe and/or intimacy that one experiences with the natural world. In honor of Ross, the Center for Human-Earth Restoration has chosen to remember him with an annual Nature Poetry contest. The contest will have five categories: Grades K–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12 and Adult, with monetary awards for each category winner. Details here
 
Scouting Outing: Field Natural History
Sunday, May 7, 3–5 p.m.
Discover Wake County's biodiversity with a park naturalist! Take a field trip focused on park habitats including pond, field, forest and wetlands, and get firsthand experience with different field techniques. Explore amazing plants and animals while playing a one-of-a-kind game of "I spy." Discuss animal adaptations for feeding, defense, and keeping warm. For ages 6 & up; fee: $50/Troop (Maximum: 3 Troops). Registration is required, and each troop must have adult accompaniment.
 
Adult Workshop: Leopold Education Project
Saturday, April 29, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
The Center for Human-Earth Restoration is offering a Leopold Education Project (LEP) on Saturday, April 29. LEP is an innovative, interdisciplinary conservation ethics curriculum targeted for grades 5–12. The location is Historic Yates Mill County Park, from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. The cost is $50, which includes a book, lesson plans manual and activities cards. Bring an eco-friendly lunch and a water bottle. CEU 10 hours. To register, contact Randy Senzig at rsenzig@nc.rr.com or call 919-270-9682. 
Details here
For all ages (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: FREE. Registration is not required. Stop by the Finley Center exhibit hall anytime during the program time.
 
Nature's April Fools
Saturday–Sunday, April 12, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
When is a stick not a stick? (When it is a caterpillar that looks like a twig.) Many plants and animals play tricks on each other – they look or act like something other than what they really are. Explore the ways that nature can be tricky, and learn about ways that wildlife have evolved to increase their chances of survival and success.
 
A History Mystery
Sundays, April 16, May 21 and June 18, 1–4 p.m.
The Yates Mill Museum needs your help! Staff found a strange artifact that needs to be studied and identified. Use clues and your observational skills to discover for yourself what object of the past is being displayed and what the artifact must have been used for historically.
 
Going Green
Saturday–Sunday, April 22–23, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Celebrate Earth Day this year by coming out to the park to learn fun facts about our "blue planet," tips on how to reduce your "ecological footprint," and how you can reduce waste. Take the Earth Day pledge and make a colorful Earth Bracelet to take home. Then go on a self-guided treasure hunt hike around the millpond to search for "gold coins" that contain earth-friendly helpful hints.
 
Terrific Trees
Friday–Sunday, April 28–30, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
A great variety of trees grow in the forests that surround Yates Mill Pond. In celebration of Arbor Day, come to the park to learn about the important roles trees play in our environment and the kinds of wildlife that benefit from the trees' presence. Pick up a tree trail brochure, then head out onto the park trails to discover where different kinds of trees are found within the park.
 
Abundant Birds
Thursday, May 4, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
First observed on May 4, 1894, "Bird Day" is the oldest of the days set aside to recognize birds and build bird conservation awareness. Experience the abundance of bird life found in the park by watching a colorful slideshow in our park center auditorium, then play a fun game to explore the wide variety of bird shapes, sizes, sounds and more that are found in nature.
 
Eggstraordinary Egg Layers
Saturday, June 3, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
A variety of animals including birds, lizards, turtles, snakes, fish, insects, spiders and even some mammals hatch from eggs, which come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes and are sometimes laid in surprising places. On National Egg Day, explore the variety of eggs that exist in nature and help build an artistic "nest."
 
The Longest Summer Day
Tuesday–Wednesday, June 20–21, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Every year on June 21, we enjoy the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. Discover the science and cultural celebrations behind this special summer day. Make a pretty sun catcher to hang in your window.
  

Art in the Park

Summer Blooms at Yates Millpond
Saturday–Sunday, May 13–14, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Get inspired by the park's natural beauty and contribute to a community art project celebrating the spring season of flowers. Head to the Finley Center reception desk to make a few paper flowers and then help to decorate the center with them. Come out anytime between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is not required. Children must have adult accompaniment.

Free historic trade wayside displays & demonstrations are offered on the third Saturday of each month, March through November, in the mill yard when the mill is open for tours and grinding corn. For all ages. Registration is not required.

Planters & Yeoman Farmers
Saturday, April 15, 1–4 p.m.
Plantations were the large farms that were the economic basis of many of the 18th-century American colonies. Yates Mill's founder, Samuel Pearson, was a planter who owned over 1,500 acres of land. Explore the role of the planter and compare aspects of their work to that of the "yeoman" farmers, who lived on small farms and represented the majority of North Carolinians during the first half of the 19th century. View farm tools and plant a garden seed to take home.
 
Sheep Shearers & Wool Carders
Saturday, May 20, 1–4 p.m.
Jokingly, the question has been asked: “If wool shrinks when you wash it, why don't sheep get smaller when it rains?” But seriously, what’s the connection between sheep and wool? Find out during this month’s Historic Trades display while exploring the traditional work of the sheep shearer and wool carder and how their work relates to the production of clothing and other handmade textiles. Then play a game pretending you are sheep gathered in a heap, trying to spy the "woolly, woolly wolf."
 
Spinners, Dyers & Weavers
Saturday, June 17, 1–4 p.m.
Explore the traditional craftsmanship of hand spinning, dyeing and weaving, and discover how these trades support the use of unique fibers and the production of beautiful textiles. Delve into some of the raw materials, tools and creative processes that have been used by these tradespeople and try a bit of hand weaving on a small loom.
 

A Side of History 

They Wore What?!
Thursday, April 27, 6–7 p.m.
Corsets, crinolines and kepis, oh my! Though milling processes haven`t changed that much since the mill was built in the 1760s, the way people dressed sure has. Join us to make your own fashion timeline, try on some colonial clothes, explore our historic costume collection and play a round or two of “They Wore WHAT?!” For ages 8 & up; fee: $1/person. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
High Flying Kites
Wednesday, May 10, 10:30 a.m.–noon
May is National Kite Month, and kite making is the perfect fun spring project! Learn about the forces that make kites fly and listen to the story of Benjamin Franklin and his kite (did he really draw electricity from lightning in the sky?). Explore how kites have been used around the world, then make your own high flying kite to try out in the park’s open field. For ages 5 & up; fee: $2/person. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
Flag Day Fun
Wednesday, June 14, 4–5 p.m.
Celebrate Flag Day by delving into the history and lore of the American flag at Historic Yates Mill, which has been around since before the American Revolution. Explore the more than 30 national flag designs that have been used over time, and learn to cut out a five-pointed star like Betsy Ross. For ages 5 & up; fee: $1/person. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 

Geology Rocks!
Wednesday, April 12, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks are everywhere! Come explore the rocks of Yates Mill through hands-on science. Test the physical and chemical components to discover the identity of rocks, then play the rock cycle game. Learn how rocks have been used in milling grains, and try out a few hand mills before taking a hike to the mill dam to discover its geologic foundation. For ages 7–14; fee: $6/child. Registration is required. This is a drop-off program, but adults are welcome to stay.
 
A-Maize-ing Grains
Monday, May 15, 10–11 a.m.
Put on your "Grain Brain" and investigate the grains in your favorite foods. Use a mortar and pestle to get inside and find out what makes whole grains so healthy to eat. Try your hand at shelling corn, and sprout a living necklace to wear home! For ages 7–14; fee: $4/child. Registration is required. This is a drop-off program, but adults are welcome to stay. Note that a History Detective Mill Tour is offered from 11 a.m. to noon – we encourage you to sign up for that, as well, for the ultimate program experience.
 
Peek into the Pond
Monday, June 5, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Many animals and insects live in and by a pond. Take a short walk to learn about Yates Mill Pond's watershed, then dip into the pond to explore the diversity of life that exists there. Examine pond organisms and use a microscope for an even closer view. Gain an understanding of what it takes to survive in the water, and explore how aquatic life helps us to understand water quality and environmental health. Registration is required. For ages 7–14; fee: $6/child. Registration is required. This is a drop-off program, but adults are welcome to stay.
 

Park Tales

Flopsy Bunnies & Other Rabbit Tails
Monday, April 17, 4–5 p.m.
"Bunnies in jackets with brass buttons.” Young Beatrix Potter and her mischievous pets saw a world filled with magic and adventure! Tap into your powers of observation – can you spot Benjamin Bunny in his dapper tam o’shanter, or Jeremy Fisher on his lily pad raft? Hear the tale of the flopsy bunnies, test your knowledge about Peter Rabbit and his friends, then create your own animal tale. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is not required. Children must have adult accompaniment.
 
The Rainbow Tulip
Friday, May 12, 4–5 p.m.
Stella loves her family and her Mexican heritage, but she doesn't always like being different from the other kids at school. Now her class is going to dance around the Maypole at the school's May parade, and Stella wants her tulip costume to be special. Sometimes being different can be exciting. Celebrate diversity through this touching story written by Pat Mora, then design your own May Day costume on paper using flower petals and other art supplies. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is not required. Children must have adult accompaniment.
 
Tiny Thumbelina
Friday, June 9, 4–5 p.m.
Written in 1835 by Hans Christian Andersen, "Thumbelina" is a tale about how life is full of adventures. Soon after being born from a fiery red flower, Thumbelina is kidnapped from home and pursued by many suitors, including a horrible toad, a bumbling beetle, and a grumpy mole. It's not easy being small, but Thumbelina successfully avoids their intentions before falling in love with a flower-fairy prince just her size. Listen to the tale then craft a "girl no bigger than your thumb" out of recycled material to take home. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is not required. Children must have adult accompaniment.
April Showers Bring May Flowers
Saturday, April 1, 3–4 p.m.
Learn about the meaning and 16th-century origins of this saying, then explore how water travels through different environments. Take a walk to view how the park grounds were designed to protect the pond's water quality and explore best management practices that can help you manage your land and prevent pollution. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
A May Flower Folly
Monday, May 1, 11 a.m.–noon
Celebrate May Day in nature! Stroll along the trails around Yates Mill Pond while searching for the many marvelous wildflowers that are in bloom, and listen to a few flowery poems along the way. Explore how flowers function and the types of flowering plants that grow locally, and hear the latest buzz on local pollinators. For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
A Mid-Summer Day Dream
Wednesday, June 21, 4–5 p.m.
What do Historic Yates Mill County Park and the woodland faeries have in common? They both love nature! Take a short walk near the millpond to search for evidence of faeries (sightings are not guaranteed), explore the astronomical aspects of Midsummer's Day, and hear a few quotes from William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." For all ages; fee: FREE. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 

Yates by Night

The Starry Sky
Friday, May 19, 8–9 p.m.
Learn how to identify planets, stars, constellations and more! Enjoy a presentation in the park center auditorium, then head outdoors to view the night sky through our telescope (weather dependent). Hear stories about the stars and check out a variety of sky maps. For ages 6 & up (adult accompaniment is required for all children); fee: $1/person. Registration required.
 

Recreational Adventures

Mill Stories in Motion
Monday, April 10, 11 a.m.–noon
What do you think a ride to the Old Mill felt like? Was it fast or slow? Long or short? Bumpy or smooth? And what were people traveling in? Make history come to life in this full-bodied transportation exploration. Note that this program does not include a tour inside the historic mill. For all ages; fee: $1/person. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
Country Dancing in the Mill Yard
Saturdays, April 15, May 20 and June 17, noon–12:45 p.m. & 4:00–4:45 p.m.
Put your dancing shoes on! Come to the mill yard to join our costumed interpreters Jon and Karena Potter in learning and dancing 19th-century country dances. You don’t need to have a partner to dance—just a willing heart and a desire to learn. No registration is required for this free, drop-in program, which will take place during our first corn grinding weekend of the year.
 
Paddle the Pond
Saturdays, April 22, May 27 and June 24, 3–4 p.m.
Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles and life jackets are provided, along with launch assistance. This program is dependent on suitable weather conditions. For ages 5 and up (with an accompanying adult), fee: $10/boat. Each canoe can hold 1–4 people (800-pound total weight limit). Registration required. All participants must sign a program waiver.
 
Messing About with Boats
Saturday, May 27, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Ratty, Badger and Mr. Toad love spending leisurely summer days going boating. Folks coming to Yates Mill did, too! One never knows what sorts of adventures a simple day on the water can bring. Hear some of "The Wind in the Willows" story while making your own crafty model boat, then test it out on the actual pond! We'll pose for pictures with our "Mill Pond Regatta." For ages 6 & up; fee: $2/person. Registration is required for all family members, and children must have adult accompaniment.
 
Family Fishing Fun
Sunday, June 18, 11 a.m.–noon
Come out to the millpond and fish the old fashioned way – we'll provide you with a cane pole, tackle and bait, along with basic instructions and assistance with identifying fish species. You'll need to bring your own luck and patience! For ages 5 & up (adult accompaniment required for all children); fee: $1/person. Registration required.
PARK ADVENTURES CAMP
This camp is FULL, but there is a waitlist.
Monday–Friday, July 17–21, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
This is a drop-off program for ages 7–14; fee: $170/child
Join us for an adventure camp filled with natural and historical experiences! In addition to park exploration, camp will include local field trips and expert guest speakers. Daily camp themes include (1) Radical Recyclers, (2) Soil Scientists, (3) History Detectives, (4) Field Ecologists and (5) Water Wizards.
Among other activities, Day 1 includes sustainability investigations and upcycled art projects; Day 2 includes a geology lab and fossil find; Day 3 includes a mill tour and archaeological adventures; Day 4 includes a hike in the park and owl pellet dissection; and Day 5 includes canoeing, cane pole fishing and water balloon games. Camp size is limited to 12 participants.
 
MILL THEATER & ART CAMP
There are just a few spaces left for this camp.
Monday–Friday, July 31–August 4, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Friday, August 4, 6–8 p.m.
Important: Students enrolled in this camp must attend all five days of camp and be available to perform the camp play at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences on the evening of Friday, August 4.
This is a drop-off program for ages 7–14; fee: $180/child
Explore the deep time story of our continent, from its beginning up to now, through Thomas Berry's play entitled "North America, Our Home" (view details here). Explore regional geography and maps while learning about the events that helped to shape the Earth and affected the plants and animals living on it. Also explore animal adaptations and our own place in the magnificent flow of time and creation. Note that this play includes a focus on evolution and the geologic time scale.
Participate as actors, musicians and stage hands in an interactive children’s play and explore a wide variety of performing and visual arts in an environment of encouragement and support. Learn and develop skills in acting, improvisation, movement, stage production and adaptation while performing a theater production. Camp size is limited to 12 participants.
 

Camps by Others that are Based at the Park

June 19–23, July 10–14 and July 24–28
 
June 26–30 and July 17–21
 
June 26–30 and July 10–14