Magnuson Nature News: July e-newsletter

Magnuson Nature News – July 2017

Newsletter Contents:

Meet our new environmental educators!

I am delighted to introduce you to the three talented and caring teachers that have joined the Magnuson Nature Programs staff this year!  The addition of these wonderful teachers has made it possible for us to respond to your requests for more summer camps than ever this year, and keep the high quality programming that you have come to know and trust!

Sarah Heater joined our staff in March, and 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 after teaching in Spain for the previous year, sharing her knowledge of and passion for nature and adventuring around Magnuson Park!

Sarah Baumann also joined our staff in March, and loves science education and literacy, and the ocassional 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 joined our staff just this week, is very 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!

For more background info about all 3 of our wonderful new staff members, visit our “Staff and Teaching Philosophy” webpage!

A BRAND NEW Magnuson Preschool is opening this fall!

I am also delighted to announce that the Associated Recreation Council (ARC) Preschool Program that is currently operating out of Carkeek Park will soon be moving to Magnuson!  Registration is now open for fall, and parents can choose to enroll their children for 2, 3 or 5 mornings per week, starting on September 11th.

Magnuson Nature Programs will be sharing the Hawthorne Hills Room classroom with the ARC Preschool Program, which operates on the same calendar as Seattle Public Schools.  This means that the room can transition to Magnuson Nature Programs school break camps as needed, and still be “home base” for the supplies needed for our field trips and nature walks held in other park areas.  This has the potential to truly be a win-win for both programs, as it enables the Hawthorne Hills classroom to be well-used throughout the entire year!

Preschool Director Elisabeth Rafailedes will continue as lead preschool teacher, and is excited about the opportunity to incorporate a lot of nature-based outdoor activities in the adjacent Magnuson Children’s Garden and P-Patch into the curriculum!  Maximum enrollment will be 14 children, so I encourage you to register soon if you are interested.  Rates are affordable and scholarships are available too!

We now have printed copies of the ARC Preschool’s handbook for pickup in the bookcase right outside The Hawthorne Hills classroom door.  For more information about this exciting new addition to Magnuson, visit the ARC Preschool website and click on the Magnuson Community Center link!

July Nature Walks and Urban Family Campout!

  • Family Nature Walk “Dragonflies: tigers of the wetlands” on Saturday July 8th from 10:00 – 11:30am.  Learn about Magnuson’s resident Drogonflies and Damselflies, amazing creatures that patrol the skies as adults, and hunt the depths of the ponds as nymphs.  They are worlds’ fastest flying insect, one of nature’s best mosquito controls, and have other “superpowers” too! Binoculars and other supplies are provided for all families, or bring your own. Fee: $3 per person. SPARC registration code #163709


  • Magnuson Community Center”s Urban Family Campout #1 is coming up soon!  It begins on Friday July 21st at 6:00pm and ends on Saturday July 22nd at 11:00am. Registration includes the opportunity to take a Nighttime Nature Walk guided by Bats Northwest, and a Morning Birdwalk guided by environmental educator Sarah Heater! Fee: $10.00 SPARC registration code #163723


  • “Bats and Beavers” Nighttime Walk for the Lifelong Recreation Program on Wednesday July 26th from 8-10pm.  Enjoy a guided stroll through the wetlands trails, learning about Magnuson Park’s resident beaver family, summer bat visitors, and other nocturnal wildlife! Please notify Lifelong Recreation office if you would like to borrow binoculars for this walk, and we’ll be glad to supply them for you.  Fee: $15 per adult SPARC registration code #165338

The Magnuson Children’s Garden Committee is hosting two more

FREE Family Garden Days this summer!

Family Garden Days are a great way to celebrate summer, with free, hands-on activities for children and families, such as worm bin exploration, nature art sculptures, and much more!  No registration needed, just drop in for a visit!

King County Master Gardeners will also be on hand to answer your home gardening questions!

Volunteers from Seattle Works will also be in the garden doing seasonal garden tasks such as weeding, mulching, and other stewardship. You’re welcome to join in too: Favorite child-friendly gardening activities are watering, spreading wood chips, and taking a fragrant tour of our “scratch and sniff” garden!

  • Friday July 28th from 6-8 pm during Magnuson Community Center’s family-friendly concert in the adjacent amphitheater, featuring Recess Monkey!
  • Friday August 4th from 6-8 pm during Magnuson Community Center’s family-friendly concert in the adjacent amphitheater, featuring the Cascadia Big Band!

Field Trip Program milestones

In 2010, we began our field trip program, and in the years since, we have provided field trips for thousands of students from schools all over the Puget Sound region.  During the first few years, most of the students we reached attended schools that could afford the fee, but we also saw how many Seattle Public School students were missing out due to lack of school or parent funding. As a child, field trips were one of my most memorable learning experiences, and so I became determined to find a way to provide free field trips, and in some cases free bus transportation also, for schools with a significant population of low-income families.

The result has been better than I ever dreamed: during the past 5 years, grants from King Conservation District and Seattle Works have funded free field trips for 77 classes and over 2000 students, teachers, and parent chaperones.

In 2012, a Seattle Works grant funded a pilot program that provided free field trips for 5 classes from Sand Point Elementary, which is attended by many of the children in Magnuson Park resident families. In 2014, King Conservation District funded 17 free field trips for Seattle Public Schools in northeast Seattle where 35% or more of the students receive free or reduced-fee lunches.  In 2016 and 2017, another grant from King Conservation District has made it possible for us to complete free field trips for 55 classes from Seattle Public Schools throughout the City of Seattle, that met this same criterion.

Magnuson Nature Programs, Magnuson Community Center, and the Associated Recreation Council (ARC) is so grateful to King Conservation District and to Seattle Works for making our field trips accessible for all, regardless of income, and we hope to find additional funding for this program to continue in the years to come.

At the same time, we have continued providing fee-based field trips for an equal number of other wonderful students, teachers, and parent chaperones from public and private schools, home school groups, and preschools.  Thanks to all for the support and encouragement you’ve given to help our field trip program grow and thrive for all 7 years!

Registration is now open for the Fall 2017 field trip season! Click on the Field Trips menu tab above for more information about our field trip theme choices, which are all are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards.

Summer Camp update:

Our summer camps are now full, but waitlist spots will sometimes open up if/when a registered family changes their summer plans!

To register, visit SPARC, stop by Magnuson Community Center, or any other Seattle Community Center. Scholarships are available too!

Here are links to the descriptions for all our summer camps:

Thanks again for your support!