Education for Schools and Teachers


Schoolchildren exploring the Coastal Plain habitat garden with a guide.

The North Carolina Botanical Garden offers a variety of education programs for schools and other groups. These programs are hands-on explorations of plants and nature. All Field Trip and outreach programs are aligned with the Common Core and Essential Standards, and include lesson plans for teacher-led pre-visit and extension activities.

We also periodically offer training opportunities for teachers. Each summer we offer an Earth Partnership for Schools Institute where teachers are trained to create native plant gardens on their school grounds.

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Earth Partnership for Schools Teacher Institute


Participants in an EPS Teacher Institute learn about native plants.

Earth Partnership for Schools Summer Institute
2017 dates TBD
Cost: TBD

The North Carolina Botanical Garden and City of Durham Stormwater Services invite teams of teachers to join the Earth Partnership for Schools. This week-long institute will train teams of teachers to create rain gardens, native plant gardens, or restored natural habitats on school grounds.

During the institute, teachers will learn about North Carolina's local flora, native plant gardening, and using the outdoors as a place for learning. Participants will also have the opportunity to visit some unique natural areas in the Triangle as well as some area schools that have created schoolyard native plant gardens.

Participants will be provided with a curriculum notebook containing over 100 lesson plans and other resources. All curriculum is aligned with the Common Core and Essential Standards and is applicable to all subject areas for grades K - 12. This institute is approved as a Criteria I workshop for the NC Environmental Education Certification.

Applications will be available beginning March 1, 2016. If you would like to receive notification when applications are available, please contact Matt Daley, Manager of School Programs.

Field Trip Programs

Caterpillar photo

The North Carolina Botanical Garden offers on-site, hands-on educational programs for school groups and other children's groups. Each program lasts about 60 minutes, and can be offered for 60 students at a time. Although each program is recommended for a certain grade level, they can be adapted for different ages of children.

Herbal Adventures: Recommended for Ages 4-6—In this program, students are led to 5 different stations in the Mercer Reeves Hubbard Herb Garden. At each station, students learn about one of the five senses, and they use their senses to explore nature. This is a multi-sensory experience for students, who will see, smell, hear, touch, and taste nature.

Flora Explorers: Recommended for 1st Grade Classes—This hands-on program is designed to teach students about the different parts of a plant, and how those parts play a role in helping the plant survive. Students have a chance to use Yellowroot (Xanthorrhiza simplicissima) as a crayon, make a bark rubbing, and taste sunflower seeds.

The Monarch's Journey: Recommended for 2nd Grade Classes—This program focuses on the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly. Students learn about the egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and adult stage of the Monarch Butterfly and their unique relationship with Milkweed (Asclepias spp.). Teachers can choose to have this program taught using models of the life stages of the Monarch, or by using live animals at each of the Monarch’s life stages. The live animal option is only available May - September and requires an extra fee to cover the cost of live animals, currently $75.

From the Mountains to the Coast: Recommended for 3rd Grade Classes—In this lesson, students learn about the different geographic regions of North Carolina and how plant communities are shaped by the regions’ unique climates and soils. Students also have the opportunity to explore the different soils of the regions, learn about carnivorous plants and dissect the leaf of the carnivorous Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia spp.).

Native Plants, Native People: Recommended for 4th Grade Classes—This interdisciplinary lesson focuses on both Science and Social Studies. Students are introduced to American Indian tribes of the different regions of North Carolina. Students learn about their history, lifestyles, and the unique ways in which they used plants to meet their daily needs. This lesson aligns with the Essential Standards for Social Studies.

Ecosystem Expeditions: Recommended for 5th Grade Classes—In this lesson, students will learn some of the basic principles of ecology. Students learn about producers, consumers, and decomposers and their unique roles within an ecosystem. The students also get a chance to dissect an owl pellet as a way to better understand food webs.

General Tours of the Garden—The North Carolina Botanical Garden also offers tours of the Garden that can be general or focused on a particular topic.

students investigate the Carnivorous Plant Beds behind the Totten Center

Students investigate the Carnivorous Plant Beds behind the Totten Center

Field Trip Programs: Registration and Scheduling

We require one chaperone for every five students. The fee for a field trip program is $30 per group of 30 students or less. For a class of more than 30 students, an additional $2 per student above 30 is required. There is no fee for a Self-Guided Tour, however, registration at least four weeks in advance is required.

In an effort to reach public schools that are most in need, we are offering a limited number of field trip fee waivers. Teachers from Title I schools can request a fee waiver while requesting a field trip through our online form.

To request an Field Trip Program, please fill out our online form.

If you have already scheduled your visit and have further questions, see our Preparing For Your Field Trip page.

Visiting Naturalist Outreach Program

In an effort to bring the world of plants and nature to students at their own school, the North Carolina Botanical Garden seeks to offer a "Visiting Naturalist" outreach program each Spring. An NCBG Educator visits 4th- 8th grade classrooms for a one hour lesson that aligns with the Essential Standards for Science. Teachers can choose from two hands-on lessons.

From Ferns to Fossils: Aligns with 4th & 8th Grade Earth Science Standards
Standards Students learn about how fossils are formed, and get an up-close look at fossils that are 360 million years old. They will also get to see "living fossils", ferns that have changed very little since the age of the dinosaurs.

What's For Dinner?: Aligns with 5th & 6th Grade Life Science Standards
This hands-on lesson is an exploration of Producers, Consumers, and Decomposers. Students will learn how an organism's eating habits help it play an important role in its ecosystem. During the program, they will learn about how plants produce their own food, dig through soil to find decomposers, and dissect owl pellets.

Programs cost $40 per class (up to 30 students).

To request an Field Trip Program, please fill out our online form.

For more information, please call (919) 962-2887.

Updated on April 11, 2016 at 03:38:28 pm.

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