Tours & Outreach

Connecting with nature fosters life-long interest in the sciences and our world. Our California native plant garden is an ideal outdoor classroom that engages students in exploring the wonders of nature through interactive learning experiences, and inspires environmental stewardship.

Our popular school programs are designed to align with the Science Content Standards for California Public Schools, Next Generation Science Standards, and the California Environmental Education Initiative (EEI).

The SBBG School Programs Guide provides information about current school programs, materials, scheduling, and fees.

To register, please fill out the School Program Registration Form and send it to the Education Department.

Download the SBBG School Programs Guide

Topics covered by our school program tours, labs, and outreach:

  • Plant Structure and Function 
  • Requirements for Plant Growth 
  • Diversity of Plants and Animals 
  • Life Cycles of Plants and Animals 
  • Adaptation and Evolution 
  • Plant Communities and Ecosystems 
  • Food Chains and Webs 
  • Rare and Endangered Plants and Habitats 
  • Uses of Plants by Native Peoples
  • Our Santa Barbara Mission Creek Watershed

Available Tours and Labs:

  • Nature Walk - Grades K-12: Explore the native plant communities of California: deserts, wetlands, oak woodlands, chaparral, redwood forest, and riparian. Discover how native plants are adapted to different environments. Find out how local geography, geology, and climate affect plant life. Look for native animals, learn about plants used by the Chumash Indians, and visit the historic Mission Dam. (60-minute program)
  • Seasonal Focus Lab - Grades 2-5: Join us in the Garden's Arroyo Room for a microscopic lab investigation of some special plants of the season. We'll discuss pollination, seed dispersal, plant adaptation, and more. Before or after the lab investigation, our docents will lead students on a nature walk to learn about more of the seasonal highlights of the plant world. Maximum 36 students. (120-minute program)
  • Habitat Hike - Grades 3-6: Plants and animals have special features and adaptations that enable them to thrive in their particular environments. In this introduction to ecology, students learn many fascinating ways in which plants and animals are able to meet the challenges provided by their local habitats. Programs for sixth-grade include a more in-depth discussion of food webs and energy flow. (60-minute program)
  • Chumash Uses of Native Plants - Grades 3-4: Students will experience how native people lived off the land through hands-on stations that explore native plant species the Chumash favored for making food, clothing, shelter, and more. Explore and touch animal skins, acorns, fibers, clapper sticks, and play Chumash games. Learn how their relationship with nature fostered a culture of respect, resourcefulness, and sustainability. (90-minute program)

If docent guided tours are not available, school groups are encouraged to visit and explore the Garden on their own, and may download our Discovery Garden Teacher’s Guide to prepare students for their visit.

Docent-led tours should be scheduled 2-3 months in advance. Self-guided groups must make reservations at least two weeks in advance to be eligible for reduced admission fees.

Science Nights:

The Garden offers educational presentations for Science Nights. Please contact the Education Department for more information.