School Programs & Tours

School Programs 

We offer school groups the options of docent-led tours or self-led tours. All school visits and tours require a reservation, including self-guided or docent-requested. As we expand our educational offerings, we look forward to providing more educational resources for teachers.  

Interested in scheduling a school or group visit to the garden? Please complete the form at the bottom of this page, then our education director will contact you. I’m ready to complete the form.

Docent-Led Tours 

Trained docents lead informational tours for groups of 10-20 students, preschool through high school age. This basic tour is correlated to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and was developed to provide information for Austin area school teachers as they tour the Zilker Botanical Gardens. Each tour is roughly 90 minutes with individual docents bringing their specific knowledge to each tour. All docents know the gardens well and are trained to work with a variety of student groups. When you register, please identify any special requests as certain docents are especially facile with special needs groups, including ESL children. March, April, and May are especially busy months, so please make your reservations early. We ask $5 per student and $7 per teacher/chaperone. We accept cards and checks, which can be made out to Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy. 

If Docent-Led, the below topics with the corresponding TEKS will be covered during your visit

K-2 Specific Topics

  • Water: Importance and uses of water for plants and animals TEKS SocialStudies.K.5.A; Science.K.7.B-C; SocialStudies.1.6.A; Science.1.7.B-C; Science.2.5.A; Science.2.7.B
  • Bamboo: Uses of bamboo as a natural resource TEKS SocialStudies.K.5.B; SocialStudies.1.6.C; SocialStudies.2.7.C
  • Plant Parts & Life Cycle: The functions of roots, stems, leaves, flowers, cones, and sporangia, including how plants grow and make more from seed to spore. TEKS SocialStudies.K.3.A, Science.K.10.B-D; SocialStudies.1.3.A; Science.1.10.B; SocialStudies.2.2.B; Science.2.9.A
  • Ancient Plants & Dinosaurs: Thinking about creatures of the past and present and exploring time and change TEKS SocialStudies.K.3.A-B; SocialStudies.1.3.A; SocialStudies.2.2.A-B

3rd to 5th Specific Topics

  • The History of the Taniguchi Japanese Garden: The Life of Isamu Taniguchi from internment camp to building the Japanese Garden as a gift to the city of Austin symbolizing peace. SocialStudies.3.1.A; SocialStudies.4.5.A; SocialStudies.5.5.A
  • Habitat: Investigating what makes a location for plants and animals suitable to live. TEKS Science.3.9.A; Science.4.9.A; Science.5.9.A
  • Food Webs: From Sun to plant to bug to bird, understanding how energy is transferred. TEKS Science.3.9.B; Science.4.9.B; Science.5.9.B
  • Plant Adaptations to the Environment: Cacti have spines and cattails aerenchyma, what adaptations allow plants to survive? TEKS Science.3.10.A; Science.4.10.A; Science.5.10.A

Middle School Specific Topics

  • Plant Cells and Anatomy: Investigation and exercises in plant cells, their contents, and variation across plants.TEKS Science.6.13.A; Science.7.13.B; Science.8.13.A
  • Cultivated Plants: Botanical Gardens feature high biodiversity, but minimal genetic diversity within each species due to selective cultivation. We discuss the variation in our natural populations versus the clonally propagated cultivars.TEKS Science.6.13.C; Science.7.13.D; Science.8.13.C
  • Biodiversity in Texas Ecosystems: Understanding how the biodiversity of plants & animals in Texas contributes to a robust ecosystem with dynamic energy and nutrient exchange TEKS Science.6.12.A; Science.7.12.B; Science.8.12.C

High School Specific Topics

  • Taxonomy: Explore the relationships of plants in the garden from Family to Genus to species and cultivar. TEKS HS.Biology.8.A-B
  • Plant Evolution: Using plants in the Hartman Prehistoric Garden, we investigate the origins and evolution of photosynthetic life from water to land. TEKS HS.Biology.7.A,D
  • Identifying Native Plants: Learn how to use a dichotomous key with the native plants in the garden TEKS.HS.EnvironmentalScience.4.A

Self-Guided Tours 

Teachers are welcome to bring their groups for a self-guided visit. The ZBG Self-Guided Tour handout is designed for teachers to use as a resource when giving the tour. We ask $3 per student and $5 per teacher/chaperone. Checks can be made out to Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy. 

Bus Drop Off/Pick Up

For scheduled school groups and tours, vans & buses can enter our main gate off 2220 Barton Springs Road, proceed to the bright green kiosk, and then will be given directions as to the drop-off location. For motorcoaches, drop off/pick up is outside our main gate at 2220 Barton Springs Road on the flat grassy lawn near the MetroBus stop. Vans & buses can park in the main lot if space permits but will be sent to the Stratford parking lot behind the garden if there is no space. Motorcoaches will be able to park in the Stratford parking lot. See the documents below for details.

School/Group Visit Form

For more information please contact Matthew Gaston with ZBGC at Once you complete the form above, Matthew will get back to you within 5-7 business days.