PIMS Cohort 3 - Western Minnesota, Prairie Biome - 2026-2027

Free Professional Development Workshop

Place-based learning in Western Minnesota for science and agriculture teachers, grades 6-12

PIMS badge shows a calendar with pages that flip and a maroon circle with silhouettes of plants and animals

Help students build a deeper understanding of phenology and climate change by participating in Phenology Investigations in Minnesota Schools (PIMS). This year-long professional development experience provides curricula, resources, and activities to support standards-based instruction throughout the academic year in grades 6-12 science and agriculture classrooms. A special emphasis is placed on reaching Western Minnesota teachers and their students; however, ALL science and ag teachers are encouraged to apply.

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On this page: When and where is PIMS Cohort 3?; PIMS' learning plan; Program goals, benefits, resources & requirements; Apply to PIMS; PIMS Team


When and where is PIMS Cohort 3?

Between July 2026 and May 2027, PIMS Cohort 3 meets four times at Prairie Wood Environmental Learning Center in Spicer, Minnesota. This location lets participants focus on Minnesota's Prairie Biome.

Yellow state of Minnesota with a maroon place marker (3) in the west

Cohort 3's application period is not yet open.

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PIMS cohorts differ by location but are the same in content and structure. Links to Cohort 1 and Cohort 2

Between sessions, participant-teachers keep personal phenology journals and occasionally connect with other cohort members to complete activities.

Workshop session dates:

July 18-19, 2026

October 10-11, 2026

January 30-31, 2027

May 1-2, 2027

Free lodging at Chrysalis House or similar accommodations.

  • Summer session: You are required to stay onsite overnight at Chrysalis House. (Check in Saturday, July 18, check out Sunday, July 19, 2026.)
  • Fall, Winter, Spring sessions: Free lodging is optional for local participants.

Participants will receive detailed information following acceptance into the PIMS program.

Learning with PIMS

Four seasonally-themed weekend sessions prepare you to teach phenology throughout the academic year.

All sessions include a naturalist hike, nature journaling, and a mini investigation. Woven throughout the experience, you will have structured time and guidance for planning how you will teach phenology in your classroom (your implementation plan).

Seasonally-specific content includes:

Maroon circle with white silhouettes of a magnifying lens, calendar, dandelion, and leaf

July 18-19, 2026

Introduction to phenology

Tree identification

Plant phenophases

Introduction to data and Nature’s Notebook

Maroon circle with white shapes representing a flying bird, a bug, a falling leaf, and a microphone

October 10-11

Bird phenology

Fall tree phenology

Insect & invertebrate phenology

Student phenology radio reports

Maroon circle with white silhouettes of a squirrel, two snowflakes, and a simple graph with axes, datapoints, and a curved line going up

January 30-31, 2027

Mammal phenology

Animal tracks

Phenology and climate change

Long term phenology data analysis project

Maroon circle with white silhouettes of a frog, a tulip, and a branch with small five-petaled flowers.

May 1-2

Flower phenology

Spring tree phenology

Amphibian & reptile phenology

Present scientific posters on climate data

PIMS and you

The information below can help you decide if PIMS is the right opportunity and commitment for you and your classroom.

Two people holding clipboards observe wildflowers in an outdoor setting.
Group of students in an outdoor setting stoop to investigate tracks in the snow.

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Goals for educator-participants

  • Grow and deepen your understanding of phenology and seasonal changes in Minnesota and how these changes relate to climate
  • Design a phenology-focused scientific investigation using inquiry-based models tied to Minnesota Science Standards
  • Develop skills for engaging students in phenology research, community science, and the process of science


  • Curriculum materials and field supplies ($200 value)
  • $1,600 stipend ($200 per workshop day)
  • One free University of Minnesota graduate credit (optional)
  • Ongoing support throughout the school year for implementation of curriculum
  • Free meals at sessions
    • Saturday lunch, Saturday dinner, and Sunday lunch are provided for everyone
    • Sunday breakfast is provided for participants staying onsite
  • Free lodging at sessions
    • For the summer session, all participants must stay onsite Saturday night.
    • For the other three sessions, staying overnight is optional, and participants who live nearby may opt to drive back and forth.

Participants must meet requirements (see below) to receive benefits.


  • Driven to Discover curriculum by University of Minnesota Extension
  • STEAM and arts-infused lesson plans, activities, and materials for nature journaling
  • Field supplies to help implement PIMS curriculum with students
  • Guidance using Nature's Notebook to do community science
  • Guidance using the Season Watch website to support student learning


  • Attend all four workshop sessions.
    • July 18-19, 2026, October 10-11, 2026, January 30-31, 2027, and May 1-2, 2027
    • For the summer session, all participants must stay onsite Saturday night. For the other three sessions, staying onsite Saturday night is optional.
  • Work collaboratively with fellow cohort members in activities, discussions, and research
  • Collect simple phenology data at or near your school throughout the cohort year (PIMS will show you how)
  • Maintain a personal phenology journal throughout the program with regular journal entries
  • Meet virtually with cohort members prior to the last workshop (Spring) to work on a group project 
  • Create and submit an Implementation Plan to incorporate phenology curriculum and activities in your classroom(s) in the future
  • Complete an end-of-workshop online evaluation


Apply to PIMS Cohort 3

Cohort 3's application period is not yet open. Sign up for alerts about when to apply.

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Alternatively, you can apply now for Cohort 1's place-based learning in Northern Minnesota (Palisade), where the first session is July 20-21, 2024.



COMING SOON: Meet the people who instruct PIMS workshops and support your year-long PIMS experience.