Education Tours and Programs
For Children and Adults

    Teachers and parents: our goal is that you consider the Arboretum an extension of your class rather than just a day-trip destination for the students. Our guided tours are targeted to meet a range of Arizona statewide academic standards, and we want to hear from educators as we continue to develop and improve our new school outreach program. Review the guided tours we offer below and request one by email to Education Coordinator Lacey Pacheco, or call Lacey at 520.689.2723.

   We offer a wide range of tours throughout the year including once-a-month tours interpreting Edible/Medicinal Desert Plants, also Plants of the Bible Land. During summertime months we offer "Learn Your Lizards" guided walking tours, guided butterfly and dragonfly walks. More detail on all of these can be found below
read more on the EVENTS page.

  In this age of accountability a teacher's ability to take their class on field trips is greatly limited. The Arboretum is far more than a destination for your students, our goal is to be an extension of your class. And we invite Homeschool families to gather for our guided tours during Homeschool Days which are offered four times each year (more information at the end of this page).

    Thousands of students from Maricopa, Pinal and Gila county schools visit the Arboretum each year, and our volunteer tourguides have plenty of practice answering questions like these. Classes from public and private schools - and homeschoolers, too - visit the arboretum nearly every week to enjoy a guided tour of the grounds and lessons in desert ecology from our knowledgeable docents and staff.

    Teachers: don't miss the opportunity to bring your class for a guided tour. To request one review the tours below and email your request to Education Coordinator, Lacey Pacheco,, or call Lacey at 520.689.2723. Education is our highest priority, and fees are reduced: from $2-$4 per student for groups of at least 15 youths who are affiliated with a public or private school (homeschoolers please see Homeschool Days schedule below). Guided tours must be pre-arranged with at least four weeks' notice ahead of the requested tour date. School groups typically arrive between 9-10 a.m. for a tour that lasts about two hours and ends up in the picnic area for lunch. All of our theme tours are aligned with Arizona Department of Education Standards.
     Themes and grade levels for the coming year include: The Arizona Tour for grades 3-8, The Tree Tour (grades 3-8), Deserts of the World ( grades 7-12), Plants of the Bible Land (for any grade level, and adult tour groups as well).

    Arizona Tour (grades 3-8)
Teaches Arizona ecology and habitat, Arizona's common plants, state symbols, and the geology that has shaped our state.

    Deserts of the World (grades 7-12)
Students learn about the various deserts of the world, weather patterns and landforms that create these desert conditions and how plants, animals, and people have adapted to life in the desert.

    Tree Tour (grades 3-8)
Students will learn about the processes trees use to sustain life, be able to identify trees common to central and southern Arizona, discuss the interdependence between trees and people, and receive an introduction to "Treeometry."

    Plants of the Bible Land (all grades -- this tours is also available by special arrangement for adult groups and clubs )
Did you know that the Sinai Desert lies roughly at the same latitude as our own Sonoran Desert? For this reason, it is not surprising that many of the same plants common in the Middle East thrive right here at Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Join an Arboretum volunteer on a guided tour to learn about palms, pomegranates, figs, olives, and other plants of the Bible Land. Wear comfortable walking shoes and a hat, and don't forget your sunscreen and water bottle. The tour, conducted at a leisurely pace, lasts about 90 minutes and proceeds along wheelchair-accessible paths. Using references in ancient texts, guides will describe how people of the Bible Land used plants as food, medicine, and shelter in ways similar to how native peoples of Southern Arizona continue to do so in modern times. Opinions and views expressed by volunteers are strictly their own and do not necessarily represent the position of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum or its management. Read more about our
Plants of the Bible Land Guided Tour

    High School - Art, Photography, Language - All Year (grades 9-12)
These self-guided tours offer opportunities for specialized classes to practice their specialty in a natural setting. For foreign language classes, the arboretum has printed trail guides available in Japanese, Spanish, German, and French. Our beautiful grounds are ideal for art and photography. Be sure to bring plenty of adult chaperones.

Home School Thursday Tours
10am November 5, December 3, February 4 , March 3 and April 7
Preregistration is Required $2 - $10 per person
download our HomeSchoolDays PDF for more information
Homeschool Days Event Calendar:
Thursday, November 5, 2015 – Edible and Medicinal Desert Plants
Thursday, December 3, 2015 – Plants of the Bible Land
Thursday, February 4, 2016 – Geology
Thursday, March 3, 2016 – Arizona. This special tour highlights unique attributes of Arizona, including geology, edible plants, state symbols, and habitats. (2 hours)
Thursday, April 7, 2016 – Plants of the Bible Land. The Arboretum is home to several plants found in the Middle East. Using references in ancient texts, guides will describe how people of the Bible Land used plants as food, medicine, and shelter in ways similar to how native peoples of Southern Arizona continue to do so in modern times! (2 hours).
For more info download our HomeSchoolDays PDF

During the academic year we invite homeschooling families (students pre-kindergarten through high school, ages 4-18) to experience educational programming at the Arboretum. Pre-registration and Pre-payment for Homeschool Days is required and non-refundable. Space is limited. Enrollment is $2 - $10 per person. Download our Homeschool Days PDF for more information about individual pricing and registration. For questions, or if you would like to be added to the 2016-2017 Homeschool Days contact list, email Lacey at

Girl Scout Badge Workshops 2015-2016
November 14 & 15, December 5, January 9, January 30 and more Winter-Spring dates
$10 per scout, $10 per adult chaperone - call 520.689.2723 to pre-register and prepay

Letterboxer (for Brownie level scouts); Nov. 14 from 10am-12:30pm. Learn the history of letterboxing, and how to read a letterbox map and code. They will then create their own letterbox, making a unique handmade stamp and notebook. The Scouts will then break into small groups and go on a letterbox hunt in the Arboretum’s Demonstration Garden, using clues from letterbox maps to locate letterboxes hidden earlier by Arboretum staff. Cadette scouts have the "Trees" badge session Nov. 15 from 9am-1:30pm, exploring the variety of trees at the Arboretum with an arborist and learning about care, needs and parts of a tree. Participants will make a tree journal, a tasty dish with ingredients that come from trees, and make a family tree with tree cookies. *Depending on season and need, Scouts may be able to help plant or care for a tree. Dec. 5 Junior scouts have the "Arizona" badge from 9am-12:30pm. The Arboretum is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and is the perfect place to learn about the diverse cultures, wildlife and plant life that make Arizona unique. The Girl Scouts will tour behind the scenes of the Arboretum to see how a state park operates, and hike the trail to learn to identify plants and wildlife. Scouts will also learn to prepare Navajo tacos, taste foods from native plants and participate in activities designed to teach about the history of Arizona (Cadettes have this badge workshop Jan. 9, 2016.Other 2016 workshops include Geocatching for Juniors Jan. 30, Flowers for Juniors March 26, 'Bugs' for Brownies April 3, and 'Gardener' for Juniors April 23; 'Animal Habitats' for Juniors May 1, 'Senses' for Brownies May 7, 'Wood Worker' for Cadettes May 14 and the 'Arizona' patch for Brownies May 21