Second-grade classes in Marin County schools have a wonderful hands-on education opportunity here at Marin Art and Garden Center. A group of dedicated volunteers with the Marin Master Gardeners has developed a field trip program that dovetails with the science curriculum covered in second grade, and makes the most of the area of the grounds here known as the Habitat Garden.
The program, Exploring Habitats, explores the needs of living creatures in four distinct environments that are represented at the Center. Each environment is a habitat—the place where a living thing has everything it needs to survive: air, water, food, and shelter. In small groups, the visiting classes tour four work stations where they learn about soil, compost, and worm bins; woodland trees and plants; gardens and pollinators; and pond life.
All second grade classes at Marin County schools are invited to participate, and every August teachers race to sign up for one of the coveted weekly slots in the fall and spring. This past year, we agreed with the Master Gardeners to hold open two spots for classes that would not otherwise have the chance to take part. While there is a small field trip fee to cover costs, the real obstacle for some schools is organizing transportation to the Center. Drawing on our “Everybody Grows” fund, we arranged for bus transport for the two second grade classes at Laurel Dell School, which is just over the hill from us in San Rafael but had never sent a class to the Center before.
The first class was on the calendar to visit us at the end of March, but the weather had other plans! One of the series of storms this spring that seemed to invariably hit on the day when field trips are scheduled, postponed the visit. With the support of the committed team of Master Gardeners, though, we were able to bring both classes
on the same day in early May, for an exciting morning of peering at earthworms, examining birds’ nests, and inspecting pond water. It was a fantastic day for everyone who took part (even though it did drizzle a little).
The last class of the school year visited at the end of May, and we are so appreciative of the work the Master Gardeners volunteers put in each week to give the students a fun and engaging experience. We’re very lucky to have Michael Bogart leading our garden team, he gives every class a warm welcome and makes everyone feel at home in our gardens.
With all spots filled on the calendar for the 2023-24 school year, we can’t wait to see the students back in their element again in just a few weeks’ time.