Discovery Tours

School Field Trip Program 

The Arboretum’s Discovery Tours Program, established in 1981, is the largest and longest-running environmental education program of its kind in Lane County. Our seven miles of groomed trails winding through meadows, forests and riparian areas, highlight some of the best examples of Southern Willamette Valley native ecosystems. The Arboretum is the perfect outdoor science classroom, where students are exposed to the wonders of the natural world.

Each Spring and Fall, 3000 K-5th grade students hike the Arboretum trails with trained, enthusiastic nature guides who enjoy sharing their love of nature with children. Students and their guides explore the environment, rain or shine, through hands-on activities, stories and stimulating discussions.

Spring program themes complement the Eugene 4J School District Science Kit topics for specific grade levels and assist teachers in meeting Oregon State Science Standards. Tours are designed to encourage active involvement and cultivate the students’ natural curiosity about nature.


Spring Tour Themes

Tour themes are age appropriate and complement the NSRC Science Education Kits used in Eugene’s 4J schools. The following themes are available in spring:

  • 1st/2nd Grade “Life Cycles” Students will be involved in nature investigations that lead to the understanding that living things pass through stages that are part of a continuing cycle. Explore the fascinating life cycles of turtles, frogs, bees, gall wasps and other animals living at the Arboretum.
  • 1st/2nd Grade “Habitat Hunt” Students investigate a variety of organisms, where they live and what they need to survive. Emphasis on the concept of a “habitat”. 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 it grows and what we can learn by counting the rings in a “tree cookie”. Explore how different kinds of trees reproduce, the fascinating world of pollination and why trees live where they do. Students will learn to identify the most common trees in the Willamette Valley.
  • 4th Grade “Wet & Wild!” Animals and plants living in a watery world must have special “adaptations” to survive. Students investigate our pond, river, stream and puddles to see who lives there and how. They will also explore the dynamic relationship between land and water as they learn about deposition, erosion, and the importance of protecting riparian areas.
  • 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. The tour is designed in the form of a “Quest,” or mystery, to be solved as the students follow a series of clues along the trail.  UO student interns will lead a pre-tour classroom presentation (TBA).

Fall Tour Themes

  • Kinderwalk! – 9:30-11:30am A special journey into the forest, just for kinders, that takes into consideration their shorter attention spans. Guides use hands-on sensory awareness activities and games as they explore the forest with younger students.
  • “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.
(Studying a specific topic? Special topics available on request for any grade level!)

About Discovery Tours

Dates: Fall Discovery Tours begin September 25, 2017

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

Number of Students: 60 per day

Group Size: 7-9

Registration/Fees: The fee is $3.25 per student for the morning tour. No charge for teachers or accompanying adults. Tours are limited to two classes per day (60 students.) 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.

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

Cancellation Policy: Please notify us at least four weeks prior to your tour for a 100% refund (less the deposit). We will refund the $25 deposit when the date is re-booked. Cancellations less than 4 weeks before tour dates will be refunded if the date is re-booked.