Educators & Schools


Please note that, due to COVID-19, changes have been made for this season to help ensure staff and guest safety, including closures of certain amenities and features or cancellations of programming. The information below may not reflect those changes. More information can be found here on our website. Please give us a call at (207) 633-8000 if you have any questions.


School & Youth Groups

“Everyone was very welcoming. The grounds are so well marked, we could figure things out easily. It is a very special place.” – Portland Arts and Technology High School

The season for field trips is mid-April through October 31. School groups must be booked in advance through the Education Department and receive a special admission rate. To ensure a quality experience for all guests, there is a limit of one large school group per day or two small groups; therefore, we recommend making your reservations early. Contact our education department at or (207) 633-8031 to schedule your field trip.

Cultivating Curiosity

The field trip program at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens offers school/youth groups several types of learning experiences. Choose the option that best suits your group:

Intensive Study Units

Designed for teachers who want to make their visit part of an overall curricular unit, these units are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. Our intensive units include a classroom lesson and a field study, last approximately 2 hours and include free downloadable pre- and post-visit activities to help to prepare for the visit and reinforce concepts back in the classroom. Price: $50 per class (not to exceed 25 students per class; does not include Gardens admission).

Study Units include:
Birds at the Gardens Unit Overview for Grades K-6 (Spring only)
Pollinators Unit Overview for Grades K-6
Plant Adaptations-Unit Overview for Grades 3-12
Wetlands Unit Overview for Grades K-6

Field Studies

Students will be connected with life sciences in the garden through hands-on field study explorations and activities that highlight living organisms and their life cycles. Our one-hour field study programs can be adapted to grades PreK-6 and are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Price: $25 per class including take-home project (not to exceed 25 students per class; does not include Gardens admission).

Field Study Topics:
The Life of a Plant – What better way to learn about plant parts than by eating them! Students will sample their way through the vegetable garden as they learn the function of the different parts of a plant and explore the life cycle of a plant from seed to fruit. Students will also learn about photosynthesis, be introduced to the common plant families found in our vegetable garden and the differences between annuals and perennials, and cool vs. warm-season crops. Each student will pot up an edible plant to grow at home. (NGSS)

Decomposers – Students will investigate life underground in the garden and discover the important role decomposers play in helping our garden grow. Students will learn to identify these living organisms, learn about the anatomy of a worm and understand how decomposition works. Each class will be given a worm jar to take back to school for future study. (NGSS)

The Life of a Butterfly – Come and explore our Native Butterfly and Moth House at the Gardens! Students will be introduced to native butterflies and moths in all stages of their life cycle from egg to adult, and learn about the importance of these animals in the food web. Students will also discover the unique adaptations of butterflies and moths, the key differences between them, and tips on how to identify our native beauties. Students will also gain an understanding of the difference between complete and incomplete metamorphosis. Each student will pot up a butterfly plant to grow at home. (The Native Butterfly and Moth House is open from June 15-September 30). (NGSS)

Guided Nature Walks

These 60-90 minute walks are led by an experienced guide and explore different areas of our Gardens and surrounding woodlands. Price: $25 per class (not to exceed 25 students per class; does not include Gardens admission). Appropriate grade level listed next to each option.Options include:

Central Gardens Walk – (PreK-6) Introduces our Garden of the Five Senses and Children’s Garden.

Five Senses in the Garden – (PreK-6) Students will put all five senses to use as we explore the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses.

Sense of Wonder Trail Walk – (K-8) Emphasizes natural history and the web of life through the lens of Rachel Carson. (NGSS)

Maine Woods Walk – (3-12) Introduces students to the trees of Maine through identification, ecology and cultural history. We’ll also take a look “inside” a tree to understand how it grows. (NGSS)

Apple Cider Pressing – (PreK-6) Explores the botanical and cultural history of apples including an apple cider pressing demonstration and tasting. (Fall only; an extra $12 charge per class for apple cider pressing supplies will be applied)


Discovery Backpack

If you prefer, check out a Discovery Backpack for your students during your field trip visit! Our Discovery Backpacks add more structure to your visit while giving your students the opportunity to use the Gardens as a place for investigation and discovery. Choose from our themed backpacks, including Birds at the Gardens, Flowers and Pollinators, and Trees of the Maine Woods. Each backpack, which is ideal for two students to share, contains field guides, scavenger hunts, games, binoculars, a field journal, and materials to perform more in-depth studies. Ten backpacks may be checked out at any given time for a fee of $2/backpack.

Self-Guided Option

With their teachers or chaperones, children are free to explore the Gardens. Each school group is designated a private space in which to leave backpacks and gather for snacks or meals. Price is free with Gardens admission.

Additional Resources for School Groups

  • Use our Gardens Photo Scavenger Hunt to encourage creative interpretation and discovery.
  • NEW! Borrow our Field Notebooks during your visit-a great way for students (PreK-6) to explore all the Gardens has to offer as they embark on a scavenger hunt in search of leaf and flower shapes, wildlife, sculptures, hidden gems and much more.

We are always looking for ways to integrate the Gardens into Maine curriculum. Please contact our Education Department if you have suggestions, comments, or ideas.