Reno Area Teacher Guide: Five Awesome Field Trips You Didn't Think Of

These lesser-known locations are perfect for your next lesson. 

The Wilbur D. May Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Your students will learn about medicinal plants, Native American plant uses, and some Nevada plant history at this diverse spot!

Wilbur D. May, a prominent Reno resident in the early days of its development, rancher, artist, world traveler, businessman, and entrepreneur, asked his family to develop part of his ranching grounds (now Rancho San Rafael) into an Arboretum upon his death.

The Arboretum & Botanical Garden now boasts over 4,000 native and adaptive plant species, this 13-acre living plant museum is dedicated as an educational resource and botanical research facility for the community. Take the kids for a self guided interactive tour or spend the afternoon with the incredible horticulturalists during the Garden Walk events.


Silver Lake Bird Sanctuary

 Heard of this hidden area?

Silver Lake is a 524 protected marsh wetland with over 80 species of birds located between Red Rock and Stead. The conservation area is a point along the Pacific Flyway for Migratory Birds flying north to south. Early summer invites my favorite, the yellow-headed blackbird and many others. Bring the binoculars and take the small walk around the marsh while teaching a lesson on bird species in Nevada.


Farm Tours with Great Basin Co-Op

Disheartened when you ask a student where their food comes from and they reply, “the store”? Let's change that.

 A tour with Great Basin Co-Op to local farms is a perfect way to help your students grasp the connection between the environment and their food source. In addition to promoting regional buying and organic food, these tours are great for lots of side-lesson opportunities to get your students thinking. For example, Hungry Mother Organics, just one stop on the tour features an Aquaponics System ideal for teaching kids about ecosystems and interdependence.

Teacher Hint:  Need an idea for a great follow up lesson? Why not create your own classroom Aquaponics system with these easy setups


Butterfly House and Science Center

Three words: Kids love bugs.

The Butterfly House is situated in Lemmon Valley and has been managed for the past three years as a permaculture design center, an ideal resource for high desert plant management. The mesh-enclosed Butterfly House features live insects to watch and hold, site tours and science activities with biologists, and toys and costumes for creative, self-directed play. Group visits to this incredible site are free with Nevada Bugs & Butterflies.


UNR’s Rock, Mineral, and Fossil Museum + Nevada Seismological Laboratory

Take advantage of the research facilities right here in town.

The W.M Keck Museum offers tours, scavenger hunts, and lessons for K-12 schools and community groups. The museum features impressive ore and mineral specimens, fossilized remains of a 3 million year old mastodon found in northern Nevada, and mining history relics. They often pair their lessons with the Nevada Seismological Laboratory (, a cutting-edge research facility measuring and engineering earthquakes.

Teacher Hint: Looking for minerals or rocks for your classroom collection? The UNR Geology Club holds a sale at the end of every semester for donated specimens. Most are inexpensive (under $10) but may include some interesting species or location pieces to share with your class.