Discovery Tours

Discovery Tours – School Field Trips

Our Discovery Tours Program, established in 1981, is the longest-running environmental education program of its kind in Lane County. Each spring and fall, 3000 K-5th grade students explore the Arboretum with trained Nature Guide volunteers. Seven miles of groomed trails, running through some of the best examples of Southern Willamette Valley native ecosystems, provide a safe and welcoming space to expose students to the outdoors and spark a lifetime of curiosity. Our hands on field trips incorporate inquiry and connect to Next Generation Science Standards.

Dates: September-November in fall and April-June in the spring

Time: 9:30am-11:30am, Monday-Friday  . . . . Classes are welcome to have their lunch in our pavilion after the tour.

Number of Students: 60 per day maximum (2 classes)

Group Size: 7-9

Registration/Fees:  $3.25 per student. No charge for teachers or accompanying adults. A $25 deposit is required with registration.  Program fees are due 2 weeks prior to the field trip.

Scholarships: Scholarships are available for all classes from Title 1 schools, on a first-come first-serve basis. Funds cover program fees only, not bus fees.

Cancellation Policy: Please notify us at least four weeks prior to your tour for a 100% refund (less the deposit). Cancel 1-2 weeks in advance for a 50% refund (less the deposit). No refunds for classes canceling less than one week prior to the tour.

Fall Tour Theme

  • “Fall Ecology” (adapted for all age levels!) Students explore the dynamic changes that take place during the autumn season. They will learn why the seasons change, why some leaves turn color and fall, the fascinating processes of photosynthesis and decomposition and how animals prepare for the coming of winter.

Spring Tour Themes

  • Kindergarten “Kinder Walk” Through sensory games and activities, students explore the animals and plant life of the Arboretum. They’ll have the chance to experience forest, field and riparian areas.
  • 1st Grade “Life Cycles” Students explore the fascinating life cycles of turtles, frogs, bees, gall wasps and trees. Emphasis is on understanding the various stages of life that all organisms pass through from birth to death.
  • 2nd Grade “Habitat Hunt” Students investigate the habitats of a variety of organisms and learn about what they need to survive. This tour develops the awareness and appreciation of the amazing diversity of life around us.
  • 3rd Grade “Tree Talk” Learn the parts of a tree, how they grow and what can learn by counting the rings in a “tree cookie”. Look at how trees reproduce and explore their seeds and cones. Students learn to identify the most common trees at the Arboretum and where they best grow.
  • 4th Grade “Wet & Wild!” Students learn about the special adaptations plants and animals have for living in a watery world. Investigate our pond, river, stream and seeps to see who lives there and how. Students also explore the interaction between land and water within a watershed.
  • 5th Grade “Stalking the Wild Camas”  This program is designed to introduce students to the most common native plants in the Arboretum and explore their importance in the daily lives of the early inhabitants of the Willamette Valley. Students will learn about of the relationship of native plants to modern medicine and develop an understanding of the importance of protecting native species.


(Studying a specific topic? Special topics available on request for any grade level!)

Would you like to sponsor a school field trip?  Click here to donate!