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School Community Projects#

Nature in the City (NIC) is committed to expanding opportunities for youth to engage in outdoor experiential learning across Fort Collins. One of the best places to do so is at school! As such, NIC is proud to work with students, parents, educators, administrators, and non-profits to create the outdoor classrooms, nature centers, and learning gardens that make everyday engagement with nature a possibility. In doing so, NIC hopes to increase health and wellness for urban youth, foster a sense of stewardship at a young age, and diversify existing landscapes to create better habitat for wildlife (from turf monocultures to pollinator havens!).

Click on a school below to learn more about each project.

Bacon Elementary School Garden#

As a result of the dedication and perseverance from third grade teacher, Casey Peirz, Bacon Elementary School received funding from The Kitchen Community and Nature in the City to install their first ever school garden. The garden represents 1 of 310 Learning Gardens installed across the United States that provides a dynamic outdoor learning opportunity for students to get their hands dirty and learn about fruits and vegetables that can be grown in their backyard. The Kitchen Community’s Learning Garden includes an Edible Garden and a Pollinator Garden. These gardens are designed to empower teachers to use the gardens for experiential learning and provide students with regular access to nature and food.

5844 S Timberline Road, Fort Collins, CO 80528

What are the benefits of the project?
The school garden provides students with the opportunity to learn where their food comes from and the role pollinators play in the food production process.

Why is the project important?
Since Bacon Elementary School does not fit the high Free and Reduced Lunch program requirements, funding for the project was limited. Without NIC funding, this project wouldn't have been possible. The Bacon Elementary School garden provides students from kindergarten to fifth grade with fresh produce. Teachers benefit from garden training, curriculum, and teaching support.

Who is involved?
The Kitchen Community, Bacon Elementary School, City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department

Bennett Elementary Outdoor Classroom#

Currently in the United States, research shows that the time children spend playing and learning in nature is steadily decreasing. Bennett Elementary IB World School is working to reverse this trend and started the construction of their outdoor classroom in the spring of 2017. The outdoor classroom provides students with a connection to nature through the engagement of hands-on opportunities that accommodate all learning styles and lesson plans. Students now have the opportunity build a sense of stewardship with the land, learn about the natural world, and enjoy all the benefits that nature provides.

1125 Bennett Road Fort Collins, CO 80521

What are the benefits of the project?
The outdoor classroom provides a flexible outdoor learning space that connects students to nature by allowing them to have their daily lessons outside. Students also have the opportunity to build a relationship with nature and understand the importance of protecting the natural environment.

Who is involved?
Bennett Elementary School, City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department, Poudre School District

Coyote Ridge Elementary School Garden#

From an ecological dead zone to a rich, high quality habitat for pollinators, members of the school community constructed a garden and outdoor classroom at Coyote Ridge Elementary School in southwest Fort Collins in June, 2017. The unused, unirrigated lawn located on the school’s property was transformed through the installation of a community garden and outdoor classroom. Raised beds of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, and a perimeter garden of native flowering plants attract pollinators, while allowing students and residents of the surrounding Ridgewood Hills neighborhood to easily interact with nature.

7115 Avondale Road, Fort Collins, CO 80525

What are the benefits of the project?
The garden creates a hub of community engagement, student education, and access to healthy food and nature. Neighbors are invited to participate in the care and maintenance of the garden, reaping the benefits of the food it produces. The outdoor classroom and integration with science, math, and world history curriculum will further extend the value of bringing nature to the city.

Who is involved?
Thompson School District, Coyote Ridge Elementary School Garden Committee, Loveland Youth Gardeners, Colorado State University, Rotary Club of Loveland, and City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department

FRCC Community Pollinator Garden#

In the heart of the Front Range Community College (FRCC) campus in Fort Collins, students and faculty from Biology, Natural Resources, and Horticulture | Landscape Design worked together to install a pollinator garden in 2017. The garden created a foraging and nesting oasis for pollinators specific to the Front Range and provides hands-on opportunities for students and the public to learn about the importance of pollinators and their associated habitats. The 8,000 square foot site incorporates ecotypic trees, shrubs, and forbs native to Colorado to reinforce visitors’ sense of place.

4616 S. Shields St. Fort Collins, Colorado 80526; located between the FRCC Sunlight Peak classroom and the Harmony Branch of the Poudre River Public Library

What are the benefits of the project?
The garden:

  • provides nesting materials, floral resources, and foraging habitat within the urban landscape for native and managed bees, butterflies, birds, and other wildlife;
  • showcases Colorado’s life zones (high plains, foothills, montane, subalpine, and alpine) with native trees, shrubs, forbs, and grasses; and,
  • offers active learning opportunities for students across different departments through participation in the planning, design, and installation of all plant, hardscape, and interpretive features.

Who is involved?
Front Range Community College, City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department