Explore Ecology Early Childhood Education Program
The Garden Explorers program is a new initiative between Explore Ecology and the Audacious Foundation that will increase Garden Based Education in Early Childhood Education programs throughout Santa Barbara County.
Garden Explorers will serve the Early Childhood Education sector and includes opportunities for infrastructure updates, professional development, and curriculum and garden materials.
Empowering you to
engage your students with
gardening and the
Learn, Play, Grow with Explore Ecology
Explore Ecology has partnered with The Audacious Foundation to implement a framework for increasing garden based education in Early Childhood Education programs throughout Santa Barbara.
A leader in environmental education in Santa Barbara County, Explore Ecology has been providing garden education for over 25 years. We work with thousands of students annually to deliver enriching, hands-on garden education in elementary and junior high schools.
This new program includes opportunities for infrastructure updates as well as professional development opportunities.
As a participant in this program your center will receive both materials and training.
Throughout 2023 – 2024 here is what you can expect:
Explore Ecology will conduct three seasonal Professional Development trainings throughout the year to cohorts of about 15 preschools (1-2 people per preschool attending) – one in the Fall, one in the Winter, and one in the Spring. During the training we will go over the seasonal station kits and pass out the curriculum and gardening materials. These training sessions will be recorded so that future staff can use them as training materials when onboarding at your site.
At each seasonal training, every center will get 3 station kits; 3 for Fall, 3 for Winter and 3 for Spring totaling 9 kits throughout the year. These kits will include supplies for implementing exploratory stations which can be positioned throughout your garden and outdoor spaces. The station kits are intended to be reused in following years and will be able to be implemented regardless of the status of your garden. Kits will include goals and learning objectives for the station, activity materials, station set up instructions, and lesson extension ideas. These kits will provide opportunities for students to engage with their senses, experience seasonal changes, build healthy relationships with food, and develop meaningful connections with their garden and the natural world.
At each seasonal training, your center will be receiving a mix of seasonal plant starts and seeds to plant in your garden. There will also be planting guides for each plant which will contain important information on how to grow these plants and tips for easy ways to use your harvest.
Explore Ecology will also provide your center with the proper gardening tools for adults and children to be successful.
Explore Ecology will host a peer-to-peer Zoom meeting in between the seasonal training sessions. This will be an opportunity for the teachers to check in, share successes or challenges, get support from the community with the curriculum materials, or ask gardening questions.
At the Directors Retreat in October, hosted by The Audacious Foundation, you will be hearing from the Explore Ecology team about the professional development and materials support portion of this program.
We will share how you and your staff can participate in this program, what the trainings include, and examples of the materials you will be provided with.