School Field Trips

Bring your class, home-school or youth group to the Yakima Area Arboretum for a science based field trip. 


“There is always something new to view and do at the Arboretum!”



When can we visit the Arboretum for a field-trip?

Field trips are offered year-round.  However, many of our lessons are weather dependent, so in January for example, you would need to skip the lessons about honeybees and focus on animal tracking or a nature walk instead.  Each lesson comes with a seasonal field trip quality color key to help you decide when the best time of year is to visit the Arboretum. 

Seasonal Field Trip Quality Color Key

What ages do you cover?

Currently we only offer pre-planned curriculum for grades 1st thru 6th.  For preschool and kindergarten aged children we recommend nature walks that are unscripted, nothing beats just poking around to see what you can discover!  For older students, such as middle school, high school or college aged students we will work with you to design something that will best complement what is being learned in the classroom.  It is not uncommon to find Yakima Valley College or Heritage University students studying tree biology or identification at the Arboretum.  

Do your field-trips meet state educational standards?

Most of the lessons we offer meet Next Generation Science Standards and can be easily adapted to different ages.  We are also happy to work with you to develop a lesson plan that enhances what you are working on in your classroom or with your youth group.

How much does it cost?

Currently these field trips are being offered free to educational institutions and community youth groups, however there is a suggested donation of $2 per student to replace
supplies and materials.

Who will guide us on our field-trip?

We do our best to have our trained Naturalist volunteers and staff lead your field-trips through the Arboretum.  However, this is not always possible, so we may ask that you provide a teacher or parent to help run some of our field-trip stations after a little training from us.

What can we expect when we arrive at the Arboretum?

You will work with our Education and Outreach Coordinator ahead of time to prepare for your visit.  Just like you, we want minimal surprises and a smooth running field-trip. Our staff and volunteers will meet your bus in the designated meeting area.  After brief introductions from our staff and/or volunteer Naturalists your students will be divided into groups and assigned group leaders (the chaperones your brought with you).  Then the students will venture on their nature walk or head to their first educational station.  Students with a station based field-trip will then move from station to station at designated times.

Will we spend all our time outdoors?

YES!! All our field-trips are outdoors, so have your students dress for the weather and wear good walking shoes.  If it rains plan on getting wet.  If you think it might rain you can bring large trash bags to help keep the kid’s torsos dry.  Fortunately, we get over 200 days of sunshine a year so rain is rarely a problem.  You might consider having the kids put on sunscreen though and/or bug spray if the mosquitoes are out.  

Can we eat a picnic lunch at the Arboretum?

Yes, students are welcome to sit under a tree and eat their lunch in designated areas.  We have a public restroom with two sinks for them to wash their hands.  If you have a lot of students with you, you might want to supplement with hand-sanitizer.  Please have the kids, pick up all trash and deposit it in the garbage cans.  Thank you for helping us keep the Arboretum beautiful!

We want to conduct our own field-trip at the Arboretum anything special we need to do?

If you are planning to bring your class/group to the Arboretum for a self-guided walk or field trip, please give us a call at (509) 248-7337 to inquire about the availability of using the Arboretum grounds! The Arboretum can get very busy and we want to accommodate as many groups as we can without people stumbling all over each other.  Thank you for your assistance with this matter. 

Ecosystem Investigations – 1st thru 6th Grades

Field-trip stations will be set up on the grounds of the Arboretum to help your 1st through 6th grade students explore the natural world of Eastern Washington through our Ecosystem Investigations mini-lessons. Our hands-on and interactive lessons will bring out your student’s natural curiosity about the world around them.

As student groups travel from station to station they will learn about Central Washington ecosystems. Pick from the following lessons below to customize your field trip; all lessons can be adapted for higher or lower grade levels aside from their NGSS grade level. 

What to know before you go:

  • We have plenty of bus and/or car parking for your group.
  • All field-trips are held outside.  Dress for the weather. Bring reusable water bottles.
  • Stations are teacher or chaperone led if Arboretum volunteers/staff are not available.
  • We have full day or half day options.  Students can eat their sack lunches at the Arboretum in designated areas.
  • Pre-established curriculum for 1st through 6th grades only.  All others must be customized.
  • Small groups rotate through educational stations set up on the grounds.  Each station offers a different subject.
  • Average lesson time at each station takes 30 minutes with 5-10 minutes for travel time between stations.
  • Student groups of approximately 100 students can be accommodated per day; a maximum of 20 students per small group is advised.
  • Looking for something different? Give us a call and see if we can tailor a lesson specific to your current teaching topics!

Best Months for the Following Lessons

Skulls - NGSS Alignment: 4-LS1-(Grades 1, 2)

Lesson Summary: Students explore the shapes of skulls and will learn the traits carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores have within their skulls. Students come away with a grasp of how to ID a skull using their critical thinking skills.   

Living Fossils - NGSS Alignment: 3-LS4-(1, 3), 4-ESS-1

Lesson Summary: Students use living specimens and fossils to appreciate the span of geologic time and how species evolve/adapt and are extirpated (go extinct) over time.

Habitat Creation - NGSS Alignment: 1-LS1-3, 1-ESS3-1

Lesson Summary: Students learn the different aspects that make up a habitat and then create a mini habitat for a local, native animal.

Sockeye Scents NEW! - NGSS Alignment: 3-

Lesson Summary: Students are helped to understand how salmon are able to migrate to their spawning ground using their sense of smell. This will be followed with a quick activity giving students a chance to smell their way home to their spawning lake if all choices were made correctly. Scents are typically Orange and Tea Tree essential oils.

Best Months for the Following Lessons


Mobile Seeds - NGSS Alignment: 2-

Lesson Summary: Students are prompted to consider the plant lifecycle with a focus on their reproduction and seeds. The activity has students exploring how seeds move around and compare different types of seeds in this collection activity.

Best Months for the Following Lessons


Bees: Community Living - NGSS Alignment: 3-LS2-1<br />

Lesson Summary: Students observe the Arboretum’s apiary, discuss the benefits of teamwork in the animal kingdom, and consider other animals that make use of the
communal approach to living. Students are challenged to use teamwork to achieve a goal, and compare the benefits of a social approach to life versus a solitary one.

Bug Hunt - NGSS Alignment: 1-

Lesson Summary: Students will learn (or be reminded) of the characteristics that define an insect then spend time finding insects and observing them.

 Best Months for the Following Lessons

Preschool and Kindergarten Nature Walks

Bring your preschool or kindergarten class to the Arboretum today for a nature walk.  Youngsters will walk the grounds searching for the different stages of plant life-cycles and learn about the Arboretum’s changes throughout the seasons. On this memorable nature walk, the kids will a get chance to see all the different animals that call the Arboretum home while learning how a seed can turn into a giant tree. Feel free to suggest specific topics you may be covering in your classroom!

  • 1 hour walk
  • Bring a lunch or snack and have a picnic while at the Arboretum
  • Limited to one preschool or kindergarten class at a time
  • High ratio of chaperones to preschoolers is advised
Middle School, High School, and College Class Groups

We currently do not offer preset lessons for these age groups.  However, our Outreach and Education Coordinator would be happy to assist you with developing lessons based on your field(s) of study and/or classroom subjects. 

All Season Scavenger Hunts

Looking for programming that is one-hour or less? This is the perfect activity for your class or group. We have scavenger hunt activities ranging from 15 minutes to 1 hour that can be adjusted based on anytime time of the year and requested subject matter.


Download field trip info here.

To schedule your field-trip or for questions, please Contact:

Garrett Brenden

Education & Outreach Coordinator
The Yakima Area Arboretum