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Art + Science

How can we combine both artistic creativity and scientific investigation to understand the world around us? Students will explore this question and many others in this weeklong summer course.

Ecology and the Art of Scientific Observation

Taught by artist and conservation biologist Hara Woltz and ecology educator Ashley Alred, this course offers an immersive experience for students entering grades 8-12 who would like to deepen their understanding of ecology and the environment where they live.

Weaving together science and art, this class offers students a unique opportunity to combine field ecology and artistic practice as they investigate the 2000 acres of Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Through guided explorations of the Institute's forests, fields, and wetlands, and in-depth engagement with artists and scientists and their research projects, the class introduces students to a variety of observational and notational methods that are applicable to inter-disciplinary thinking and innovation.

Throughout history, both scientists and artists have used field journals to note their observations of the ecological world and develop their ideas. The practice of recording and experimenting in journals engages and develops lateral thinking capabilities that serve students in a variety of academic capacities.

During the week, students will create visually layered experimental field journals, and engage in site-specific art creation based on scientific research. Students will experiment with a number of techniques including data visualization, sketching, collaging, writing, and critical questioning that make the process of notation compelling, creative, and highly enjoyable.

Students must bring their own sack lunch, snacks, and water bottle. We will provide light snacks each day.

Field journals in the Cary Institute Lowlands during Art & Science summer course


Art+Science is open to any student entering grades 8-12 in fall 2023. Students can register for one or both sessions. Both sessions will have the general theme of Ecosystem Exploration involving both plants and wildlife, but the specific topics will be different each week.

Session 1: July 24-28, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Session 2: July 31-August 4, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm


We are offering two different rates aligning with income as a way to offer more equity to our camp families. You will be able to self-select on the registration form.

Household income <$75,000
Tuition: $345

Household income >$75,000
Tuition: $445


Through the generosity of community members and grant funding from the Dyson Foundation, we are proud to offer a limited number of scholarships to families who qualify. To be eligible for a scholarship students must qualify for free or reduced lunch, as outlined by federal income eligibility guidelines. Scholarships are awarded on a first come, first served basis. Typically all scholarships are awarded by the end of April, so please apply early.

Scholarship application (english)
Scholarship application (spanish)

Please email for more scholarship information.

Teens use waders to explore a wetland at Cary Institute's summer Art & Science course
Field journals from Cary Institute's teen Art & Science summer course

What campers have to say...

How did camp change how you think about observation?

“You really have to observe something carefully so you can see all the details that you might not from far away."

“I became a lot more open and observant to the world around me, and I learned that you should record even the smallest of observations.”

 “I noticed how detailed many things are, and that art really represents the beauty of it.”

About Hara Woltz

Cary's Fall 2015 artist-in-residence, Hara Woltz is an environmental artist and scientist that uses a variety of media to address the destruction and conservation of ecological systems. Her solo and collaborative projects investigate the complex relationships between humans and other living organisms. Field research is integral to the creation of her work. Informed through direct immersion, she documents, questions, and mitigates the impacts of human constructs—perceived and concrete—on the environment and its inhabitants.

Hara has worked on a variety of ecological and habitat design projects throughout the world, including the Asia Trail at the National Zoological Park in Washington, DC, habitat restoration for native species on the North Island of New Zealand, giant tortoise and albatross habitat assessment and restoration in the Galápagos, and bio-cultural resilience in the Solomon Islands. Her work has also appeared in a variety of publications, including ORION, Biological Conservation, Popular Science, and Landscape Architecture Magazine.

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This project is made possible with funds from the Statewide Community Regrants Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and administered by Arts Mid-Hudson.