Welcome to Nearby Nature’s Learnscape! This wonderful space is an outdoor classroom as well as a model for sustainable living practices. In the summer of 2019, our space was certified as an official Nature Explore Classroom, one of only two in Oregon.
So what will you find in the Learnscape?
Our Yurt offers a meeting place for our weekday Network Charter School classes and weekend special programs. Our user-friendly composting and water-catchment systems model energy and water conservation. Our Edible Schoolyard produces food as well as awakens the senses. Nature-themed artwork mirrors the wonders of nature nearby. Our Sound Garden adds a musical element to our adventuring space. And outdoor classrooms (Hazelnut Hollow, Squirrel Kitchen, Pollinators’ Playground, and Frog Haven) and natural play areas for kids (our Nature’s Builders Playspace, the Dig Inn Dirt Box, Beaver Dam-River Run, the Nest, and our wonderful sandbox) make learning outside fun.
Our Learnscape inspires curiosity, imagination, and stewardship. We hope you will join us for a program here soon!
To start having Learnscape-like fun at home, you can collect “loose parts”. For nature educators, these are things that kids find outside that don’t have a pre-determined role in play – cones, stones, sticks, leaves, shells, driftwood, and so much more. They’re also things that adults might think are useless but kids find fascinating – colorful milk jug lids, scraps of fabric, empty containers, and the like.
Loose parts paired with a child’s imagination mean round rocks and blue fabric draped over the edge of a picnic table become a river and a waterfall. Fir cones topped with lichen hair are fairies in a house made of shells. Colorful lids and empty spice containers on a sidewalk marked with chalk are playing pieces for a new board game. The possibilities are endless.
Here are just a few loose parts combos that can inspire kids to get creative — both inside and out!
- Fairy Fun — cones, wood cookies, flower petals, acorn caps, lichen, fabric scraps
- River Runners — blue fabric strips, round stones, glass gems, ribbons
- Bug Buddies — green fabric scraps, small plastic insects, twigs, flowers
- Rainbow Rocks — stones that are extra colorful when wet, water, ribbons
- Sea Scenes — driftwood, shells, glass gems, shiney fabric scraps, stones, ribbons
- Go Gamers — milk jug caps, empty spice jars, corks, glass gems, stones, cones
Thanks so much to all the community partners worked with over the years to develop our Learnscape site, including the Oregon Community Foundation, Walama Restoration, the Seed Ambassadors, the School Garden Project, the City of Eugene, EWEB, the North American Butterfly Association, the Native Plant Society, the Master Gardeners, and more.
Let us know if you want to get involved or stop by for a tour. Work parties are listed on our Calendar and we’re always happy to talk to people would like to volunteer to contribute artwork or work on building projects in the space. We look forward to having you on site soon!
Water Wise Demonstration Garden
As you approach the Host Residence in Alton Baker Park, you will probably also notice our lovely front lawn! Back in 2008, EWEB and the City of Eugene decided to create a “water wise” demonstration garden to showcase tools that community members could use in their home landscapes to reduce water use without sacrificing beauty. After consulting with a variety of people interested in the project, Nearby Nature’s front yard was selected as the site for the garden.
Working in collaboration, the City of Eugene, Nearby Nature, and EWEB, in partnership with Schirmer Satre Group and LandCurrent, finished this garden in the summer of 2011. Of course, all gardens are an on-going labor of love, so the Water Wise Garden will change and grow over the years. Come check it out! There are two interpretive signs at the site as well as more information on the City of Eugene’s website.