The U.S. National Arboretum is a great place to bring your students for a field trip! Our mission is science and education, so we appreciate and support your efforts to teach your students about the fascinating world of plants.

You can plan your field trip using Washington Youth Garden staff resources of the Science Program Reaching OUT (SPROUT) program or you can design your own field trip.

While buses may discharge or load at the circle in front of the Visitor Center, they may not remain parked there and should plan on waiting at the Grove of State Trees Parking lot where there is ample parking for buses on weekdays.

If you are planning a lunch or snack break as part of your experience, there are eating areas adjacent to the Visitor Center and in the Grove of State Trees.

If you have questions, please contact the Programs Specialist at programs.usna@usda.gov.


We encourage you to review this PDF map. It provides practical information such as where to park your field trip bus, restrooms and where larger groups can have a picnic. It also details how each Arboretum plant collection can complement your curriculum. Some gardens are great for a horticulture-focused day hike for high school students. Others collections are optimal for younger students. Some collections offer a great opportunity to teach history as well as botany. Download the map to your computer and use Adobe’s hand tool to activate the interactive features of the map. Click here for a plain type version of garden descriptions if the map doesn’t activate.

Be sure to review the map even if your visit is informal and doesn’t involve a program at the Arboretum. That way you and your students will get the most from your time here. In addition, to help you plan, here are hours of operation and directions to the arboretum (click here for hours).


Teachers should also review our school safety and ground rules document. This will help you and your students have a fun and safe visit.


The American Society Of Plant Biologists—For Educators

K-12 educators may find this series of lesson plans from The American Society of Plant Biologists helpful. It includes instruction and many laboratory exercises, some of which can be conducted at low or no cost.

ARS Science for Kids

Includes science fair support and other interactives.


SPROUT lessons offer a choice in garden basics, soil and compost, pollination, nutrition, food Systems (6th grade and above) and water. The SPROUT webpage above provides lesson concepts covered in the program. Ag in the Classroom, a USDA-funded resource, offers free lesson plans to help you prepare your students for their SPOUT field trip. Here ae a few examples. There are more at AITC.

Garden Basics

Vermicomposting (Grades 3-5)
The class will create a worm bin which will serve as a basis for experiments about ecosystems, life and nutrient cycles, and decomposition.
Also has a grades 1-2 option

Soil and Compost

Properties of Soils (Grades 3-5)
Students will learn that different soils have different characteristics and examine different types of soil that have been mixed with water and allowed to settle. Next, they investigate soil components and how air space allows soils to hold and transmit water.
Also has a 6-8 grade lesson
And a 9-12 lesson

Composting Focused

The Rotten Truth (Grades 3-5)
Students will observe and explain the decomposition process and learn the methods and ingredients for making compost.

Companion Resource
Home Composting - Turning Your Spoils to Soil
This 17-minute basic how-to video is available for free download. Learn what makes compost happen, what items you should and shouldn’t compost, how to build your own compost bin, the “recipe” for great compost, and how to use your compost.


Honey Bees: A Pollination Simulation (Grades 3-5)
Students will identify the parts of a honey bee, the stages of its life cycle, and its role in pollination.

Flower Power (Grades 6-8)
Students will observe physical characteristics of flowers and explore principles of pollination.
Similar lesson for grades 3-5

Conserving Bumble Bees (Grades 9-12)
This lesson introduces the importance of bumble bees and other pollinators. Using a case study approach, students will examine bumble bee population surveys and use the scientific method to discuss possible causes for the decline of pollinators. Students will then determine which land management conservation strategies in agricultural ecosystems are most successful in attracting and supporting bumble bee populations.


Grocery Store Problem Solving (Grades 3-5)
Students will use basic mathematical skills to solve problems related to the cost of food while integrating geography and nutrition to enhance learning. Activities include analyzing grocery ads, assessing the nutrition and cost of meals, and exploring diets around the world.
Also has a grade 6-8 version

Food Systems

Food Choices and Sustainability (Grades 6-8)
To examine the various factors that contribute to a sustainable food system and apply critical thinking when making food choices.

Journey 2050 Lesson 1: Introduction to Sustainable Agriculture (Grades 6-8)
Students will explore and understand the core question, “How will we sustainably feed 9 billion people by the year 2050?” and begin to think about the challenges and opportunities presented by this question. Students will explore factors such as expected population growth, food waste, and various positive and negative factors impacting sustainable agriculture. This lesson is listed on NSTA’s website as a Classroom Resource.

Global Food Security (Grades 9-12)
Students will explore the causes of hunger, both domestically and globally; evaluate potential solutions for solving world hunger; and forecast the impact of a growing world population on current food supplies.


Water Supply (Grades 3-5)
Students will observe and understand that water changes states as it moves through the water cycle.

Learn, Protect, and Promote Water! (Grades 6-8)
In this lesson students learn about water sources, water pollution, and water protection. Students participate in an activity where they demonstrate the water cycle and see the potential for our water supply to become contaminated.


Washington Youth Garden (WYG) at the U.S. National Arboretum (USNA) was established in 1971 by D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation. In conjunction with the Washington Youth Garden Council, WYG was created to teach children horticultural skills and environmental awareness, as well as life skills such as team building and personal responsibility. It has several programs for educators, including:


The Washington Youth Garden’s field trip program that invites youth and educators from all over the Washington metro area to visit our demonstration garden site here at the National Arboretum.


This is Washington Youth Garden’s Partnership Program. WYG commits to working with low-income schools in the Washington, DC region for a minimum of 3 years as they grow and establish an integrated school garden which serves as an outdoor science classroom, a living nutrition lab, and a creative space to get in touch with nature.


WYG’s Green Ambassadors program is a 6-week summer high school internship located at their demonstration garden.