2015 BGCI Congress Tours
In addition to programmed sessions, the BGCI Congress also offers you the chance to take part in six exciting pre- and post-Congress tours in the St. Louis area. Learn more about each tour below.

Register for the St. Louis tours through the 2015 BGCI Congress Registration page.

Pre-Congress: Day Tours in St. Louis
Cahokia Mounds Bellefontaine and Calvary Cemeteries – CANCELLED Forest Park
and Saint Louis Zoo

Post-Congress: Day Tours in St. Louis

Biotechnology, Butterflies 
and Beverages
Audubon Center at the Riverlands and National Great Rivers Museum Urban Gardening

Post-Congress: 3-day tour in Chicago, Illinois – CANCELLED

 Chicago Botanic Garden Urbs in Horto/City in a Garden Tour

Although the 3-day tour has been cancelled, Chicago Botanic Garden is still offering a 1-day free tour. Please see information at the bottom of the page.

Tour organizers reserve the right to make itinerary changes.


Butterfly House; Shaw Nature Reserve

Tour organizers reserve the right to make itinerary changes.


Cahokia Mounds

Monks Mound at CahokiaSunday, April 26, 2015
9 a.m.–3:30 p.m.
$65 per person
50 person maximum

Travel back in time with fellow Congress delegates as you spend the day exploring what was once one of the greatest cities of the world. The remains of the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico are preserved just 15 minutes east of downtown St. Louis, at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, a U.N.-designated World Heritage Site for its importance to our understanding of the prehistory of North America. Within the 2,200-acre tract lie the archaeological remnants of the central section of what was once a thriving ancient metropolis known as Cahokia, “City of the Sun.” The Mississippians who lived here were accomplished builders who erected a wide variety of structures from practical homes for everyday living to monumental public works that have maintained their grandeur for centuries. We’ll spend the morning exploring the site’s world-class Interpretive Center, featuring museum exhibit galleries, a theater and public programming auditorium. After lunch, we’ll trek outside to hike and explore the mounds, including the 100-foot high Monks Mound, the largest earthwork in North America. Guiding us will be Washington University archeologist Dr. John Kelly, whose research focuses on Cahokia culture. Bring a water bottle and wear comfortable clothing for outdoor exploration. Bus transportation, lunch, guided tour and self-guided tour resources in multiple languages are included in fee.


Bellefontaine and Calvary Cemeteries

Bellefontaine CemeterySunday, April 26, 2015
8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
$40 per person
50 person maximum


During this half-day motor coach tour, you’ll visit two historic cemeteries in the City of St. Louis that hold wonders of the past, present and future. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Bellefontaine Cemetery is recognized for its architecture, horticulture, historical significance, and stunning beauty. Serving as a resting place for the likes of explorer William Clark, beer baron Adolphus Busch, America’s greatest engineer James Eads, and poet Sara Teasdale, Bellefontaine’s 314 acres are home to some of the region’s most magnificent trees, including three state champions. Bellefontaine is one of only two accredited arboreta in the City of St. Louis (the other being Missouri Botanical Garden) and works closely with the St. Louis Audubon Society and others as it embraces its role as an urban wildlife refuge. Adjacent to Bellefontaine is Calvary Cemetery, home to the last native prairie fragment in the city’s once extensive grasslands. While at the Calvary prairie, you’ll learn first-hand of the collaborative community effort underway to restore and sustain a diverse, viable prairie remnant, and to integrate this resource into the fabric of local and regional life. Bring a water bottle and wear comfortable clothing for outdoor walking. Bus transportation and guided tour are included in fee. Lunch on your own.


Forest Park and Saint Louis Zoo

World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park
Photo courtesy Explore St. Louis
Sunday, April 26, 2015
9 a.m.–3 p.m.
$60 per person
50 person maximum

During this full-day tour, you’ll experience the wonders of Forest Park, one of the largest urban parks in the United States, as well as the world famous Saint Louis Zoo. At 1,371 acres, Forest Park is approximately 500 acres larger than Central Park in New York City. This beloved park and its miles of biking and hiking trails are stewarded by Forest Park Forever in close partnership with the City of St. Louis. Your day will begin with a coach tour of the park’s main attractions: Jewel Box greenhouse, James S. McDonnell Planetarium, Steinberg Rink, The Muny, Visitor and Education Center, Missouri History Museum, and Saint Louis Art Museum. We’ll stop for a mid-day hike through Kennedy Forest and a Turtle Trek and Frog Watch experience to learn more about these engaging citizen science programs. Then we’ll lunch at the Saint Louis Zoo, and meet up with the Zoo’s Education team where you’ll participate in one of the following experiences: dig in to the Zoo’s Distance Learning program, take a Safari Walking tour, learn how the Zoo is connecting children and nature through preK and early childhood programs, or you may choose to enjoy the St. Louis Zoo on your own. Bring a water bottle and wear comfortable clothing for outdoor exploration. Bus transportation, lunch and guided tours are included in fee.


Biotechnology, Butterflies and Beverages

Boy with butterflyFriday, May 1, 2015
4–9:30 p.m.
$50 per person
50 person maximum

On this last day of the Congress, spend the latter part of Friday with fellow delegates seeking a little bit of plant science, entomology and yes, cocktails. This tour will depart from Missouri Botanical Garden on Friday afternoon after the Congress concludes, and head 30 minutes west to Chesterfield, Missouri, home to the Monsanto headquarters, a sustainable agriculture company, as well as to the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House, a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Our first stop will be a guided tour of Monsanto’s world-renowned greenhouse complex to learn about ever-evolving plant science research and technology focused on global food crops of significance. Following the tour, our coach will take us down the road to the Butterfly House, the first insectarium to be accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. Our colleagues here will welcome you with light appetizers, wine and beer as they invite you to experience more than 1,500 free-flying butterflies as you stroll through the tropical conservatory, visit the Lopata Learning Lab, and outdoor Native Butterfly Garden. This is a perfect way to wrap up the week with fellow Congress delegates and new-found friends. Wear comfortable/casual clothing. Bus transportation, food and beverages included in fee.


Audubon Center at the Riverlands/National Great Rivers Museum

Birds along the riverSaturday, May 2, 2015
8:30 a.m.–6 p.m.
$70 per person
50 person maximum

Just 30 minutes north of downtown St. Louis, you’ll visit the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, the National Great Rivers Museum, and the Audubon Center at Riverlands. You’re day will start when you cross the majestic Clark Bridge head down the Great River Road about a mile to the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, where you will have an opportunity to tour the facilities and take in lovely views of the Mississippi River. The next stop is a 1.5-hour tour of the Museum, which includes a visitor center operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. You’ll view the museum’s exhibits and have the opportunity to ascend to the top of the impressive Melvin Price Lock and Dam, an engineering marvel that enables barges to navigate the river. Lunch will be served in the Museum’s learning space. After lunch you’ll cross back into Missouri to enjoy 3,700 acres of restored prairie marsh and forest at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary. The  sanctuary is a designated Important Bird Area in the heart of one of the most significant flyways in the world – the Mississippi River. You’ll experience the Center, its exhibits, and its dramatic, expansive view of the Mississippi. You’ll also have the opportunity to hike its nearby nature trails and enjoy intimate views of the quiet waters of Ellis Bay, home to an ever-changing variety of 325 species of both resident and migratory songbirds and waterfowl. Bring a water bottle and wear comfortable clothing for outdoor exploration. Binoculars will be available to borrow. Bus transportation and lunch included in fee.


Urban Gardening Tour

City Seeds siteSaturday, May 2, 2015
8:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
$40 per person
50 person maximum

Get inspired by our colleagues at Gateway Greening, an incredible non-profit organization comprised of gardeners, neighbors, friends and volunteers dedicated to sustainability, hope, and healthier, happier lives for all. During this half-day experience, we’ll visit Bell Demonstration and Community Garden and the City Seeds Urban Farm, just two of Gateway Greening’s 200+ gardens in the region. Known as the organization’s outdoor office, Bell Demonstration Garden makes available 20 demonstration beds, seed distribution, tool loans, a “Community Coop,” composting area, and a picnic shelter to enable learning, connecting, growing, and sharing. City Seeds Urban Farm is a 2.5-acre downtown oasis that provides fresh produce for local charities and the Bell Market, and works to provide opportunities for the homeless. Bring a water bottle and wear comfortable clothing for outdoor exploration. Bus transportation and lunch included in fee.


Chicago Botanic Garden ‘Urbs in Horto’/‘City in a Garden’ Tour

Friday, May 1, 2015:
tour leaves St. Louis, Missouri;

Saturday, May 2–Monday, May 4, 2015:
tour Chicago, Illinois

Open to BGCI Congress Attendees Only.

3-DAY TOUR CANCELLED. However Chicago Botanic Garden is offering the following 1-day tour for free (tour does not include travel between St. Louis and Chicago or accommodations in Chicago):

Chicago 1-Day Tour – May 4, 2015

8:35 a.m.   Leave Ogilvie Station on the 8:35 Union Pacific North Train to Kenosha, exit train at Glencoe Station, arrives 9:16
9:16–9:40 a.m.
  Board Garden Trolley at Glencoe Station and ride to the Chicago Botanic Garden
 9:40 a.m.
  Welcome and Orientation (Jennifer Schwarz Ballard, Associate VP of Education and Patsy Benveniste, VP of Education and Community Programs in Lakeside Room) 
9:50 a.m.
  Walk to Buhler Enabling Garden 
10–11 a.m.
  Tour of Buhler Enabling Garden and discussion of Chicago Botanic Garden Horticultural Therapy Programs with Barbara Kreski, Director Horticultural Therapy Services
 11 a.m.
  Walk to Lakeside Room in the Visitors' Center and short bathroom break 
11:15 a.m.–
12:15 p.m.
  Meeting and discussion about Windy City Harvest with Eliza Fournier, Urban Youth Programs Director 
12:15–1:15 p.m.
  Lunch purchased by participants at Café, eaten in Lakeside Room with Education Team, Eileen Prendergast, Youth and Family Programs Director, Kathy Johnson, Teacher and Student Programs Director and Beth Pinargote, Adult Education Director and other staff as available. 
1:15 p.m.
  Walk from Lakeside Room to tram station, across from Visitors' Center
1:30–2:15 p.m.
  Grand Tram Tour—drop off at Plant Conservation Science Center
3–3:30 p.m.
  Tour of Plant Conservation Science Center 
3:40 p.m.
  Meet tram in front of Plant Conservation Science Center for ride back to Visitors' Center 
3:50–5:15 p.m.
  Free time
Find more information about travel and accommodation in Chicago

If you are interested in this tour, email jschwarz@chicagobotanic.org by April 10, 2015.

Download information about travel and accommodation in Chicago
Download a copy of this itinerary

The itinerary for the original 3-day tour follows:

Person gardening on a roofChicago is known for its history of culture and conservation. Join representatives of the Chicago Botanic Garden as we explore all the city and surrounds have to offer over three days. We will stay at the Hostel International – Chicago, which is centrally located near the city’s “Museum Campus.”

Throughout the three day program you will be treated to a variety of cuisines, including an extraordinary vegan soul food lunch catered by Chef Tsadakeeyah Emmanuel, a partner of the Garden’s urban agriculture programs for teens.

Fees include:
  • Accommodations for 4 nights, including breakfast at Hostel International – Chicago
  • Transportation from Missouri to Chicago and around the Chicago tour sites
  • Entry fees to the Field Museum
  • Lunches for 3 days and dinner for 2 nights
  • Entry fees to Morton Arboretum and Chicago Botanic Garden are covered by in-kind support
  • Option 1: Share accommodation with 1 person, shared bath (16 available) – $625 US
  • Option 2: Private room with in-room bath (4 available) – $985 US
Some changes in the tour itinerary may occur depending on availability. If changes occur, they will be replaced with trips of equal or greater value.
Botanic Gardens Conservation International, the world’s greatest force for plant conservation is co-organizing its 9th Education Congress in partnership with Missouri Botanical Garden.
Learn more about BGCI

2015 BGCI Education Conference Logo
April 26–May 1, 2015
Missouri Botanical Garden
St. Louis, Missouri


BGCI Congress Sponsors

Congress sponsor information coming soon.