Field Trips

A local resource for enriching botanical educational experiences, the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum serves over 1,400 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 April through October, last 45 minutes to 1 hour, and are free of charge. See our Field Trip Guidelines for more information.

  1. 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 environment--we'll talk about the life cycles of trees and explore the habitats of animals such as ducks, salamanders, and flying squirrels.

    • Throw and Grow Seedball Tour (Kindergarten - 3rd): Learn about what an arboretum is and how it allows plant and animal life to grow and reproduce. Students will learn about what seeds are and different ways that seeds can be spread throughout the environment. The importance of native plants will be emphasized. This program will include a short tour of the arboretum and each student will make a seed ball (hardened mixture of soil, clay, and flower seeds) to take home and toss outside to encourage the spread of native Virginia flora. 

    • Forest Web Tour (3rd – 12th): On this tour, students will learn to identify several notable native Virginia trees (and flowers or animals, depending on the time of year) and explore a particular theme around your group's learning goals: 
      • Introduction to Ecosystems (3rd - 5th grade): We'll explore how consumers, producers, and decomposers cooperate and compete to fully utilize all the resources a forest or a wetland can offer. 
      • Human Impact on the Ecosystem (middle or high school): We'll explore sustainability, how humans can impact the ecosystem positively or negatively including watershed management, balancing people's needs and effects on the environment, invasive species, and ways individuals and communities can help conserve or restore ecosystems.

  2. 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. 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. More about the Backpack Program here!

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

Field Trip Guidelines

Group Size

Docent-Guided Tours: Each tour is limited to 20 students per tour, but we can accommodate larger field trip groups with multiple tours. Minimum 10 students per day, maximum 60 students per day.

Docent-Guided Seedball Activity & Tour: Minimum 10 students per day, maximum 25 students per day.

Self-Guided Tours: Maximum 120 students per day.

We require a minimum of 1 adult chaperone per 10 students.

Brown bag lunches or snack-type, individual carry-on foods and beverages are permitted. School field trips groups may reserve the pavilion in advance for lunch at no charge.  The pavilion has six large picnic tables (seating approximately 30-35 children) and is located near the Arboretum parking lot closest to Carrier Drive. Groups may also bring blankets to eat their lunches on the lawn.

Field trips take place entirely outdoors. Please dress appropriately for the outdoors and uneven terrain. We recommend comfortable walking shoes, hats, water, and sunscreen.

The Arboretum does not have indoor facilities for large groups to wait out inclement weather. Severe inclement weather automatically cancels guided tours and rescheduling is the group’s responsibility. If the weather is uncertain, call the Education Center at (540) 568-3194 before leaving school.

Edith J. Carrier Arboretum
780 University Blvd, MSC 3705
Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807

(540)-568-3194 | 
Grounds | Free to the public | Dawn to dusk | 365 days a year
Frances Plecker Education Center | Monday - Friday | 8 AM - 4 PM

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