The Deschutes Children’s Forest would like to thank the students, teachers, and staff from Ponderosa Elementary for helping to make our first NatureHood at Pine Nursery Park a huge success. Students of all ages from Ponderosa Elementary have been exploring, learning about, and playing in Pine Nursery Park doing everything from searching for animal tracks, releasing trout into the park’s pond, and playing educational games focused on animal adaptations. As part of an effort to inspire local schools and communities to be more aware and appreciative of the natural world right in their own backyard, Deschutes Children’s Forest Partners with leadership from Bend Parks and Recreation District have designated Pine Nursery Park as their first NatureHood.
This effort began in August of 2012, when 30 teachers from Ponderosa Elementary ventured into their backyard park to discover the amazing learning opportunities that exist within a short walk from their school. Teachers learned about their local ecosystem from botanists, wildlife biologists, soil scientists, foresters, plant geneticists, and fish biologists from Deschutes National Forest as well as hands-on activities from staff from the Environmental Center and Bend Park & Recreation District. At the end of the day, teachers left with new knowledge, new tools and new ideas for bringing their classroom learning outdoors. Since then, hundreds of students have spent over a hundred hours outside, enhancing their sense of place and strengthening their appreciation for the natural world in their own backyard.
What’s next? In 2013, DCF in partnership with local schools and Bend Parks and Recreation District, will expand our NatureHoods program to include two additional parks. Stay tuned for more! Special thanks to Steve Austin, principal of Ponderosa Elementary for his support in this project, as well as Deschutes National Forest staff, who have dedicated their time to bringing more students outside.