Group programs are programs requested and scheduled for particular school or user groups. You can learn more about the types of group programs and field trips offered by this park below.
In-person field trips are canceled until further notice. Check out our Virtual Group Programs page to schedule a virtual experience for your class.
Field Trips and School Programs
Look for Virtual Programs? Find them here!
About Our Field Trips
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.
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.
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.
Schedule a Trip
To schedule a field trip, first download and read over our Educators Guide and look over other resources.
For more detailed instructions and tips download the appropriate visit guide below:
For homeschoolers, download the Field Trip Guide for Homeschoolers.
For an organized group of adults, download the Adult Visit Guide.
What could your customized field trip be like?
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.
Tours inside the old water mill are 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.
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 park staff 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. Find out what correlates here.
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
Take a look at our pre-and post- visit activities!
For Elementary Grades:
A collection of fun multi-disciplinary activities to get your group ready to visit the old water mill: download them here.
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: download them here.
Organized Group Mill Tours
About Mill Funding
Yates Mill is an operable grain mill established around 1756. The equipment in the mill is original, left after the Lea family ceased milling operations in the mid-1950s. A visit to this historic treasure provides an opportunity to learn about an integral aspect of rural life in the early days of settlement in Wake County.
Tour fees directly support the nonprofit Yates Mill Associates for maintenance and operations of Historic Yates Mill.
For more information on how to become a member of Yates Mill Associates, please visit www.yatesmill.org
Booking Your Tour
Tour dates are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations should be made, preferably, one month in advance. For groups that may be interested in other programs in addition to a mill tour, please refer to the Group Programs and Field Trips section of our website.
Historic Yates Mill County Park is pleased to offer guided tours to organized groups on weekdays. Requests for group tours are made by contacting the Group Program Coordinator, Jack Singley, at [email protected] or 919-856-5638.
Little Red Hen Tour
Get your preschoolers excited about Yates Mill! Relive the beloved story of the Little Red Hen. Then take a trip to the mill to gather ingredients for an imaginary loaf of bread.
History Detective Tour
Earn your history detective badge! Take a guided hike to Yates Mill to discover how the mill operates. Try your hand at corn shelling and bartering as you solve history mysteries.
Mill Heritage Tour
Learn about mill operations and our global mill heritage. Explore local community history and discover how simple hand mills gave rise to complex machines like Yates Mill.
Classroom Discovery Programs
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.
Hand Mills and Millstones
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 staff-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!
Animal Tracks and Signs
Hark! Who goes there? Learn to read the tracks and signs animals leave behind. Find out what animals are eating, where they are going, and what they’ve been up to! Then observe wildlife in action on a short hike.
Explore the rocks of Yates Mill! Learn the three rock types and play a rock cycle game, then test the physical properties of rocks to discover the identity of mystery rocks. Also learn how rocks have been used to support mills and grind grains.
Little Red Hen Classroom Activities
Discover the connection between Little Red Hen and farm products through interactive and hands-on activities. Also make a chicken hat craft to take home.