Field Trips

A local resource for enriching botanical educational experiences, the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum serves over 2,000 students per year on field trips with our guided tours. Docents lead engaging, age-appropriate outdoor tours through our forest and pond area to introduce students to forest ecology and wildlife identification.

Field trips are offered year round and are free of charge.

See our Field Trip Guidelines for more information.

Docent-Guided Tours: Tours are offered on weekdays during the school day and are capped at 20 students per tour, but we can often accommodate larger groups using a rotation cycle--please indicate your needs on the Field Trip Form, and we will happily talk with you about possiblities! 

  • Five Senses Tour (Preschool – 2nd): Through hands-on activities and play, students use their five senses to learn about the life cycles of trees and explore the habitats of animals such as ducks, salamanders, and flying squirrels. Allow 45 minutes to 1 hour per tour group.

  • Throw and Grow Seedballs Tour (Preschool - 3rd): Students make a seed ball (hardened mixture of soil, clay, and flower seeds) to take home and toss outside, encouraging the spread of native Virginia flora. Afterwards students take a tour of the Arboretum focused on seed dispersal and native plants. Allow 1 hour 15 minutes per tour group.

  • Forest Web Tour - Ecosystems (3rd – 6th): We'll explore how consumers, producers, and decomposers cooperate and compete to fully utilize all the resources a forest or a wetland can offer. Allow 45 minutes to 1 hour per tour group. 

  • The Forest Web--Human Impact on the Ecosystem Puzzle (6th-9th): Should we pave over the pond to create more parking? Why not? Students will explore the arboretum in teams to collect all kinds of ecosystem data to inform the opinions they will form. Great for thinking about policy making, cost/benefit tradeoffs, conservation, water systems, the value of trees, and the complex interactions all around an ecosystem.  Allow 75 minutes per 25 students.

  • Watershed health and restoration (4th+): Explore the Arboretum watershed, including our stormwater management features, pond, intermittent stream, and riparian buffer. We can modify this tour's additional activities to fit your content needs and/or age of student: students can participate in activities about storm run-off, pollution sources, see an enviroscape watershed demonstration model, learn to use a turbidity tube, or do some water quality testing. Allow 90 minutes to 2 hours per group.

Self-Guided Tours: Offered weekdays between 9 am and 4 pm; maximum 120 students per day. Teachers are responsible to plan activities and instruction for their group. For small groups, educational backpacks that include wildlife identification activities, field guides, and art supplies will be available for free rental in the Education Center. Backpacks include: Insect Investigators, Animal Tracks, Flowers and Pollination, Reptiles and Amphibians, All About Birds, and Macroinvertebrate Pond Study. 

To Schedule a Field Trip

Please complete the Field Trip Request Form below. Arboretum staff will email you within 5 business days to schedule your trip. If you have questions, email us at or call (540) 568-3194.

Please note that all dates are subject to availability and your field trip is not scheduled until you receive a confirmation email from Arboretum staff.

Schedule Field Trip

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