Staff and Teaching Philosophy

Emily Bishton, former Director and Lead Educator

International Mud Day is for grown-ups too!

Emily has been teaching children and adults about gardening and nature throughout the Puget Sound region since 1995.  She thoroughly enjoys being in the garden, classroom, and natural areas of the park, whether it’s an event filled with tots, seniors, or anyone in between!

Her education methods are based on 3 main principals:

  • Providing a welcoming, caring, and open atmosphere for learning, where each child is encouraged to actively participate in the curriculum;
  • Inspiring and appreciating curiosity, with curriculum that builds from, and expands, each child’s natural curiosity and creative thinking;
  • Providing multiple avenues for experiential learning and reflecting, so that visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners can all enjoy success.


IMG_1483In addition to co-founding Magnuson Nature Programs and nurturing its growth for the past 12+ years, Emily teaches garden and nature classes for children at the 70th & Sand Point and Radford Court Child Care Centers.  She also teaches sustainable gardening workshops for municipalities, colleges, and garden clubs throughout the Puget Sound region, as well as national gardening organizations.  As a longtime landscape designer, she has specialized in child-friendly, wildlife-friendly, and edible landscapes.  Though most of her work has been in private gardens, her school landscape designs include two that you may be familiar with: the Sand Point Child Development Center and the Sand Point Elementary Native Plant Garden.  She also designed Magnuson Community Center’s two demonstration gardens – the Bird-friendly Landscape and Resource Conservation Landscape- and has helped expand and steward the Magnuson Children’s Garden since 2003.   You can take a stroll through any of these 3 gardens whenever Magnuson Park is open!

Emily retired in October 2017, but is continues to be a member of the all-volunteer Magnuson Children’s Garden Committee!


Magnuson Nature Programs is on hiatus until spring 2018.  For more information, contact Magnuson Community Center coordinator Marc Hoffman at 206-684-7026.


Staff who have made great contributions to our programs in the past:


Sarah Heater, Environmental Educator

Sarah grew up exploring Seattle’s parks and hiking around the Pacific Northwest. After graduating from UW with a degree in Biology, she moved to Spain to teach English and Science.  She loves helping children and adults discover new concepts and draw their own conclusions about the natural world. Sarah is excited to be back in Seattle, sharing her knowledge of and passion for nature and adventuring around Magnuson Park, and is now a member of the all-volunteer Magnuson Children’s Garden Committee!


Sarah Baumann,  Environmental Educator

Sarah is originally from Wisconsin, and grew up in a family full of outdoorsy scientists. She moved to Seattle last summer after finishing her bachelor’s degree in geology from Macalester College (St. Paul, MN). Through her time at college she became interested in education, particularly science education and literacy. In Sarah’s free time, she enjoys crocheting, puzzles, biking, and going on the occasional geocaching trip. She is excited to spend the spring and summer exploring Magnuson Park with field trip students and nature campers, and playing in the dirt!



Kaila Randall, Environmental Educator

Kaila has spent the last 10 years teaching science and environmental education, as well as leading wilderness trips with kids of all ages.  She spent many years teaching science of all kinds at Pacific Science Center here in Seattle, sea kayaked in the San Juan Islands, taught snow science and avalanche safety in the Colorado Rockies, hiked through the White Mountains of New Hampshire, canoed the wild rivers of Maine, and taught about the rich biodiversity of Oregon’s beaches and Estuaries. She is extremely passionate about the outdoors and teaching children to be stewards of our beautiful planet, and excited to spend the summer exploring all there is to see around Magnuson Park!


Heather Lecrone, Environmental Educator

Heather is a Seattle native who loves teaching kids about nature and growing fresh organic food, as well as exploring Magnuson Park and taking biking trips around the Pacific Northwest! After spending most of 2016 teaching in our camps, classes, and field trips, Heather is now finding great success in the Community, Environment, and Planning Degree Program at the UW, and is now a member of the all-volunteer Magnuson Children’s Garden Committee!




Nicole Caudana,  Environmental Educator

Nicole moved to Washington after completing her degree in Environmental Education and Interpretation with an emphasis in marine sciences, from Humboldt State University. Her passion lies in creating a positive attitude towards the natural world, targeting each learning style, and inspiring a strong sense of stewardship in all audiences she engages with. Nicole greatly enjoyed all the Magnuson Nature Programs adventures she had in 2016 and early 2017!
Jackie Wilson, Environmental Educator

Jackie graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Washington with a BA in Environmental Studies and a BS in Biology, and completed a M.Ed in Curriculum & Instruction.  She had extensive teaching and program coordination experience at Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center and the Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park’s Neukom Vivarium before teaching spring field trips and camps for Magnuson Nature Programs in 2014.  Her expertise and experience greatly enhanced our field trip, camp, and nature walk curricula and programs.  She was a lively and engaging teacher for children of all ages, as well as adults, and is now a science teacher at Roosevelt High School!


Claire Rostov, Summer Camp Assistant

In 2013 and 2014,  Claire took the summer assistant position to new heights.  For several years afterward, kids who knew her still fondly asked “where’s Claire?”, and it’s no wonder!  She is a caring, enthusiastic, and energetic young woman who went on to graduate from college with honors and to captain a national-contending Ultimate Frisbee team.


Magnuson Nature Docents

Magnuson Nature Programs is honored to have had a very dedicated group of volunteers assisting with our camps, classes, field trips, nature walks, and special events for the past 7 years.  Magnuson Nature Docents have come from many walks of life, and given generously of their talent and experience in science education, wetlands biology, birding, organic gardening, composting, art, photography, web and graphic design, cooking, classroom organization, and other skills.  Their assistance with all aspects of Magnuson Nature Programs has provided a priceless benefit to staff and to all programs attendees, and was a major factor in our overall success.  Many of the Magnuson Nature Docents are now members of the all-volunteer Magnuson Children’s Garden Committee!

Teaching Assistants and Interns from local colleges:

Students from the University of Washington, Shoreline Community College, or Seattle Central Community College, have assisted at many camps, classes, field trips, nature walks, and special events over the years.  We welcomed these students, and provided them with training and mentoring as they gained knowledge and experience in our programs!



Thank you for trusting us with your biggest treasure: your children!

You can rest assured that every Magnuson Nature Programs staff member, Magnuson Nature Docent, teaching assistant, intern, and other volunteer who worked with children in our camps, classes, field trips, or nature walks have all completed a Seattle Dept. of Parks & Recreation registration and passed a Washington State Patrol Background Check.