Programs

High School Field Trips

Content Detail

Guided adventures are available during the spring and fall school seasons.

  • Available for pre-K through 12th grade
  • High school guided programs are 1.5 hours
  • Morning programs are scheduled Monday through Friday, 9:45 to 11:15 a.m.
  • Afternoon programs are scheduled Monday through Friday, 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
  • For a full-day option, pair two half-day programs together.

Visit the Plan Your Field Trip webpage to help you and your classroom prepare.

To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

Leave No Child Inside

1.5 hours | 180 students

A growing body of research says that unstructured time spent outdoors in nature is critical to children's physical, social, and emotional development. Such outdoor experiences can foster creativity, emotional well-being, independent learning, and problem-solving. The beauty of the Arboretum changes daily, and students will have an opportunity to explore whatever is most interesting on the day of their visit. One of our guides will be on hand to answer questions and guide students to exciting questions and observations, but the focus is on free exploration of nature.

    • This program is not meant to address any specific Next Generation Science Standards.
    • To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.
  • Half day:
    $8 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Restoration Stewards

1.5 hours | 40 students

Help us with natural areas management and conservation work at The Morton Arboretum. Education guides will lead your group of students as they conduct an educational service project in restoration. This is a great opportunity for Ecology Clubs. Activities can include pulling invasive plants, collecting seeds, hiking off of a trail and in heavily vegetated areas, and more. Students learn about ecological restoration while doing restoration.

    • This program is not meant to address any specific Next Generation Science Standards.
    • To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.
  • Half day:
    $8 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee
  • Self-guided adventures are available year-round and can be scheduled Monday through Friday during open hours.
  • To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

The Gateway to Tree Science

Self-paced | 180 students

An interactive, outdoor exhibit highlights the biology and function of trees, the challenges they face, the plight of endangered trees, and the research taking place throughout this half-mile, wood-chipped path.

  • This program has the potential to address the following Next Generation Science Standards:

    • MS-LS2-5: Maintaining biodiversity
    • HS-LS2-7: Human impact on environment and biodiversity

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Half day:
    $6 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Joy Path Backpack

Self-paced | 180 students

Use an interpreted trail, teacher guide, activity backpack, and map to explore woodlands and aquatic ecosystems. Each pack serves 20 students and three chaperones.

  • This program has the potential to address the following Next Generation Science Standards:

    • 3.LS1.1: Life cycles
    • 3.LS4.3 and MS.LS2.1: Habitats
    • 5.PS3.1, 5.LS2.1, MS.LS1.6, and MS.LS2.3: Energy and food webs
    • 3.LS3.2, 4.LS1.1, and MS.LS1.4-5: Survival, adaptation, and reproduction

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Half day:
    $6 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Woodlands, Wetlands, and Prairies

Self-paced | 180 students

Make discoveries on your own while exploring the Arboretum’s woodlands, wetlands, and prairies (no support materials provided). Below are some suggested itineraries that take up to approximately 90 minutes. These options may include interpretive trail signs.

East Side: Starting at Parking Area P-8 walk the Joined Loops 3 and 4 Trail to Big Rock Visitor Station. Continue on the Woodland Trail to Big Rock. For a longer experience, walk the long way around the Heritage Trail back to the Big Rock Visitor Station.

West Side: Starting at the Prairie Visitor Station Parking Area P-25, walk the Prairie Trail loop to Parking Area P-30. For a longer experience, walk to the nearby Millennium Oak.

  • This program is not meant to address any specific Next Generation Science Standards.

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Half day:
    $6 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Magnolia Collection

Self-paced | 180 students

Located on the West Side of the Arboretum, sits a living seed bank of some of the world's oldest plants—magnolias. These trees are beautiful at any time of year. Walk with your students through this new path with interpretation focused on the family history of magnolias, breeding/hybridization, and the unique features of this flowering beauty. The self-guided tour can be utilized in conjunction with other self-guided options.

  • This program has the potential to address the following Next Generation Science Standards:

    • 5-LS1-1: Plant growth
    • MS-LS4-1: Interpret fossils that document the change of life
    • MS-LS4-4: Survival and reproduction based on genetic variation
    • MS-LS1-5: Environment and genetics influence growth
    • HS-LS1-2: Hierarchical organization

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Half day:
    $6 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Fees and Policies

Half-day trip fees:

  • One guided adventure (1.5 hours): $8 per student, $15 registration fee
  • Self-guided adventure: $6 per student, $15 registration fee

Full-day field trip fees:

  • One guided adventure (3.0 hours): $12 per student, $30 registration fee 
  • Two guided adventures (3.0 hours): $12 per student, $30 registration fee 
  • One guided adventure (1.5 hours) + self-guided adventure: $12 per student, $30 registration fee 
  • One self-guided adventure: $6 per student, $15 registration fee

Registration details:

  • Registration must be completed three weeks prior to field trip date.
  • Dates are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis, so early registration is strongly encouraged.
  • Adult chaperones are required (three adults/teachers for every 20 students).
  • There is a minimum of 15 students for guided and self-guided field trips.
  • Payment is due three weeks before the date of the field trip. Call the registrar to process payment at 630-719-2468, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Fees include admission to the Arboretum for:

  • All registered and attending students
  • All registered and attending adult chaperones (three adults/teachers for every 20 students)
  • State required aides

Aligned Activities and More

To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you offering half-day and full-day field trips?

Yes. Self-guided field trips can be booked between 7:00 a.m. and sunset. Our guided programs adhere to the following schedule:

  • Full-Day Guided Field Trips: 9:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
  • Morning Half-Day Guided Field Trips: 9:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
  • Afternoon Half-Day Guided Field Trips: 11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.

Will we be able to eat lunch during our field trip?

Yes. Our lunch location is outdoors, at either picnic tables or picnic-style on the lawn at either Meadow Lake Picnic Area or the Thornhill Picnic Area. Lunch spaces for self-guided groups at Meadow Lake Picnic Area are not reserved and are first-come, first-served. Lunch spaces at Thornhill Picnic Area are reserved only for guided programs; schools will be assigned table space based on their group size and availability. Groups may also be provided with tarps to lunch on the lawn surrounding Thornhill. For questions, please contact Meghan Wiesbrock (mwiesbrock@mortonarb.org) or Megan Kuhl-Horbin (mkuhl-horbin@mortonarb.org).

How many students can participate in our field trip?

Capacities are put on our field trip programs based on availability and supplies. Please visit our website to identify the capacities of each field trip program. Typically, our self-guided programs have a limit of 200 students and our self-guided backpacks have a limit of 100-200 students. If you want to bring more students than the capacity limits allow, you would have to plan on coming to the Arboretum over the course of two or more days.

Are bathrooms available during the field trip?

Depending on where your field trip will take place, port-o-potties with handwashing stations or indoor bathrooms will be available.

Can my class just participate in a lab program on their field trip?

Lab programs are part of a full-day, guided field trip and must be paired with a field program.

How many chaperones can I bring?

Field trip groups are allotted three free teacher/adult chaperones per 20 students (i.e. bringing 21 students would allot six free teacher/adult chaperones). State-required aides are free, but must be identified in the registration form. Extra adults/chaperones are $16 each.

What can my students do on a self-guided field trip?

Students explore the Arboretum at their own pace. Educators can also access videos and downloadable activities in our Field Trip Bundle to better prepare for their field trip.

What happens if it rains on the day of my field trip?

Field trips are not canceled due to weather; our programs run rain or shine. Indoor locations are not reserved for self-guided field trip programs. If rain is in the forecast, we encourage our visitors to wear appropriate clothing: waterproof shoes, rain jackets, and poncho. We discourage the use of umbrellas as they become a safety hazard with low-hanging branches on our wood-chip trails.

The Arboretum security rangers watch the radars closely. If lightning is a threat, or the rain is torrential, the students on guided programs will be given modified programs in a thunderstorm-safe location such as the Thornhill Education Center, the Thornhill Picnic Shelter, or the school bus. Lightning will cause the Children’s Garden to close until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.

What is the cancellation policy for my field trip?

Programs will run as scheduled to be outdoors during seasonal weather: rain, snow, and cold. Please dress accordingly. The registration fee is non-refundable. The program fees are refundable for cancellations made three or more weeks before the program date. No refunds will be given for cancellations or changes made fewer than 21 days before the program date, for changes in headcount, or for absent children. Payment for the field trip is due three weeks prior to the field trip date.

I teach at a Title I school, can you waive admission or give us a discount? 

The Arboretum offers a Youth Science Education Outreach Grant to schools serving 40% or more low-income families, according to the Illinois Report ard. Grant applications open in late May or early June and are first-come, first-served. For inquiries, please email mkuhl-horbin@mortonarb.org.

Can we come to the Arboretum early (before our scheduled field trip start time) or stay late (after our scheduled field trip end time) and just hang out and explore?

Due to the volume of students and visitors on any given day, it is recommended that you arrive at your scheduled arrival time so we can best accommodate your group.

Can we order box lunches/have food delivered on our field trip?

You cannot have food delivered to the Arboretum. Teachers and students are encouraged to bring their own brown bag lunch from home. At this time, the Arboretum is unable to offer box lunch options from its exclusive caterer, Ginkgo Catering.

Are masks required for field trip participants?

The Morton Arboretum follows State of Illinois COVID-19 guidelines. According to these guidelines, masks are not currently required for participation in our field trip programs and are optional in all Arboretum buildings. If these guidelines change, you will be notified in advance of your visit. Should any field trip participant feel more comfortable wearing a mask, they are welcome to do so.

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