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Discovery Garden Community Partnerships. Shadow Lake Elementary School Tahoma School District. 9 Outdoor Teaching Stations. Discover Food Plants Garden. Discover Sensory Plants Garden. Discover Plants from Around the World Garden. Outdoor Teaching Stations. Discover Butterflies Garden.

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Discovery Garden Community Partnerships

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discovery garden community partnerships

Discovery GardenCommunity Partnerships

Shadow Lake Elementary School

Tahoma School District

9 outdoor teaching stations
9 Outdoor Teaching Stations

Discover Food Plants Garden

Discover Sensory Plants Garden

Discover Plants from Around the World Garden

outdoor teaching stations
Outdoor Teaching Stations

Discover Butterflies Garden

Discover Pollinators Garden

Discover Washington Garden

outdoor teaching stations1
Outdoor Teaching Stations

Discover Early Earth Garden

  • Discover Forests & Meadows Trail

Discover Plants with Animal Names Garden

keys to success
Keys to Success
  • A PRINCIPAL that is 100% committed to the project. Our principal did an outstanding job gathering community support. * Garnered support from district & through-out the community * Solicited Volunteer Hours (Volunteers may not have shown- up if not for letters from the principal)* Solicited Financial Support
  • Community Support and Involvement
  • Stable Funding Source (Funds & in-kind donations)
  • Coordinator to manage projects
school families work parties
SchoolFamilies & Work Parties

Families donate materials of their own or from employers.

Shadow Lake families:

From infants to teens to grandparents, contribute many hours of labor at seasonal work parties.

Starbucks “Make Your Mark Day” (hours = $$)


(former Shadow Lake students)

school families contribute
School Families Contribute
  • Plants
  • Materials
  • Tools
  • Supplies
  • Birdhouses
  • Bird baths
  • Labor
  • Garden enhancements
  • Services
  • Equipment
  • Financial Contributions
  • Volunteer at booths for Earth Day Fair
service organizations
Service Organizations

Boy Scouts of America

(work parties, benches)

Girl Scouts of America (work parties, birdhouses)

  • They provide helping hands for our work parties.
  • We provide food from our garden harvest to share with needy families.
students as community contributors
Students as Community Contributors

School wide:

Every student, Every class plants a tulip or daffodil bulb in the fall

The gardens are spectacular when they bloom!

A study at Georgetown University found that even if students, teachers, and educational approach remained the same, improving a school’s physical environment could increase test scores by as much as 11%.

A Whole New Mind, Daniel H. Pink

nature nuts volunteer led program
NATURE NUTS Volunteer Led Program


  • planting
  • hiking
  • unstructured play
  • weeding
  • filling birdfeeders
  • observing
  • harvesting
  • looking for wildlife

Pride & Spirit Award: Recognition each time they engage with nature

earth day week
Earth Day Week
  • Week long educational activities focus on the importance of healthy habitat for all living things.
  • Students and teachers explore different aspects of the 4 critical habitat elements and our connection with them: Food Water Shelter Space
  • Kindergarten and first graders participate in Habitat Safari, a fun and engaging learning opportunity where students identify the four elements right on the school site and seek out evidence of local wildlife and the natural habitats in which they live.
  • Second graders enjoy becoming paleontologists, digging in the “Early Earth Garden” only to unearth botanical imprints, fossilized bones, and ancient dinosaur tracks. They get to take home a lump of coal!
  • Third, fourth and fifth grade students study riparian and forest habitats as well as the impact of global warming on habitats around the world.


  • Students, educators, parents, staff and environmentally conscious community members celebrated the week’s endeavors with a festival celebrating the weeklong activities.
  • Informational games and booths were sponsored by :

Washington Native Plant Society, Burke Museum of Natural History, Shadow Lake Bog, Rainier Chapter of Audubon Society, Smokey Bear from National Forest Service

benefits for students staff
Benefits for Students & Staff

Discovery Gardens of Shadow Lake…

  • Provide opportunities for enhanced learning
  • Binds students together as peer partners and offers real life inclusion experiences for all persons with different-abilities.
  • Educators utilize outdoor teaching stations for lessons directly linked to the environmental educational standards set by Washington State Legislators (EALRS/GLEs)
  • Garden participants experience pride, responsibility, ownership, curiosity, and environmental accountability
  • Students and staff provide frequent garden tours to our Shadow Lake guests
  • Staff appreciate the unique educational experiences it offers their students.
  • A beautiful sensory garden experience awaits students, staff and visitors upon arrival to school each day.
  • Everyone is welcome to join in the fun.
community benefits
Community Benefits

Shadow Lake Discovery gardens:

  • Provide an opportunity for full participation eliminating age, gender, socio economic class, physical and developmental disability issues.
  • All persons are invited and welcomed into the Garden.
  • Establish community partnerships for support of Tahoma School district schools
  • Offers sensory experiences to local seniors residential care
  • Provides outreach and fellowship with home schooled students
  • Religious affiliations and schools team together to help the local food banks
  • Patrons of the arts have a creative welcoming outlet
  • Garden club members share expertise and enlighten our youth in the area of botanical studies
  • Tahoma School District is noted for its enhanced environmental learning projects and this educational model is shared with neighboring school districts

Lifelong learners

discovery gardens project perspective lessons learned
Discovery Gardens Project Perspective: Lessons Learned
  • Communities come together when they focus on projects that make a difference not only in our immediate surroundings, but also have a larger impact on our world in which we live.
  • The Discovery Gardens provide continual opportunities for hands-on learning experiences.
  • Discovery Garden participants come away with an increased sense of awareness and accountability to the preservation of the earth, protection of our wildlife and an understanding of how their participation contributes to the environment.
growing pains
Growing Pains

With all projects comes the accountability factor of funding and people power. The school staff, teachers, administrators, community members, parents and the students themselves desire more opportunities for enhancement of the Discovery Garden program. With reliance on donations and pure people power passionate about the project, we have made great strides.

Areas where we could “grow” the program could include:

  • Support and grow funding (i.e., locate willing grant writers, community donations, personal trusts and corporate endowments/sponsors)
  • Develop a staff project coordinator position for someone who has the time and background knowledge to bring Environmental Education curriculum elements into the classroom.
  • Support educational outreach through training classroom educators and school volunteers willing to attend workshops and courses designed to address the environmental education standards
  • Integrate fresh environmental educational lessons that support the EALRS and GLEs guidelines
  • Continue exploration of the world around us and peak student interest in the sciences.
growing dreams
Growing Dreams
  • Things we’d like to do if time and money were no object:
  • Directly for kids
    • More plants for kids to plant
    • More time outside— Class lessons Unstructured exploring time
    • Earth steward mentors program
    • Wildlife encounter assemblies
    • Environmental field trips
    • More curriculum connections with in-class lessons
    • Nature docent program
    • Expanded Earth Day Event More booths More volunteers for the booths
  • For the Program
  • Print field guides for teachers to use
  • More help maintaining gardens
  • More support for teachers to bring classes outside
  • More benches at meadow
  • New shed for supplies
  • New wheelbarrows
  • Encourage other schools and groups to use our outdoor classrooms
  • More cool plants and trees to get them hooked on NATURE!