Fall Semester (ages 10 to 14)

Fall Semester (ages 10 to 14)


Welcome to GROW’s Urban Environmentalist Program!

The goals of this program are to:

  • Build student confidence in nature through positive experiences, active learning, and collaborative outdoor play

  • Support student knowledge in the areas of ecology, conservation, and permaculture farming

  • Strengthen a sense of community belonging through collaborative learning and the fostering of positive social relationships

  • Inspire a love of nature that translates into action as our students look for ways to help care for their local public parks and green-spaces

  • Equip learners with the tools and skills needed to feel confident hitting the trails in our state and national parks

  • Build conflict resolution and self-regulation skills

Course Overview for the age 10 - 14 Grouping:

Quick Details:

  • Cost - $105 per semester (3 months)

    • This breaks down to $35/month, which is an average of $8 per week.

    • GROW is a small, mostly volunteer operated, nonprofit organization that is committed to keeping costs for education as low as possible while upholding our standards for quality programming. Tuition fees help cover basic operating expenses related to the program such as staffing and supplies used by students (including the costs associated with developing the project site.) A portion of all tuition payments also goes back into Metro Parks department to help sustain our public parks lands for future generations. Funding for other aspects of our organization’s work in the community come from sources such as charitable donations, corporate sponsorship, fundraising efforts, and grants.

  • Age range - This class is intended for students ages 10 to 14 years old.

  • Time - Mondays, 10am - 1pm

  • Date range - August 5th through October 28th

  • Location - Two Rivers Park, Donelson

  • Content - Basic survivalist skills (orienteering, hiking, wilderness first aid, and more!) coupled with broader education around Permaculture system management and leadership skills development

  • Activity level - HIGH!

In an effort to better achieve our program goals, this year we have created an environmental program tailored to the specific needs of students in the ‘tween’ to early teenage years. Many of these students have been with us a number of years already and bring to the community a preexisting knowledge of the basics in the field of ecology. We recognize that students in this age range are ready for greater independence, higher level educational content, and a hands-on role in the ongoing development and management of our GROW project site. Students in this age range crave greater social interaction with peers, opportunities to share their own knowledge with others, increased autonomy, and meaningful ways to contribute to the larger community. Our goal for this year is to meet these needs while also helping our students foster valuable leadership skills.

This program has been designed to have a high degree of physical activity, experiential learning, and community development impact. Each month students will add a new item to their survivalist tool kit (compass, 1st aid kit, etc.) based on learning objectives completed in the course. Each semester also contains a group collaborative project related to sustainability. Students should be able to articulate the principles behind permaculture, GROW’s mission, and various aspects of the project site by the time they age out of this grouping. At the end of the 2019 season, students who’ve completed the full two semesters with us will be certified as our inaugural class of Jr. Docents for the GROW project site and invited to represent our organization at various volunteer opportunities, public events, and more. *This is an exciting step for the GROW team, as we move closer to our goal of not only inspiring urban students in the field of ecology but also connecting them to potential careers in the future.

A typical day at this program includes the following schedule:

  • Drop off (near the Two Rivers Dog Park)

  • Group Welcome/”plug-in” time

  • Survivalist lesson/application activity

  • Snack (*peanut-free please, we have students with life-threatening allergies!)

  • Sustainability lesson/application activity

  • Closing/”download” time

  • Dismissal

As a bonus, this age grouping for our Urban Ecologist program will also be working hands-on with GROW’s herd of goats to help restore ecological health to the forest system throughout the season!

Other things to know about this program include:

  • Parents of this age group are asked to volunteer as a program helper at least three times per semester!

    Why We Ask Parents to Volunteer

    • Parents enrolling a student in our Urban Ecologist programs are asked to volunteer as program helpers at least three times per semester. This is a key aspect of the program which serves many functions. In addition to helping us keep the cost of our program low while providing ample adult supervision, this participation more importantly provides the means for us build a sense of community. By volunteering regularly, you'll be able to connect with other families in the program on a deeper level and, in turn, become more connected to the larger GROW community. Also, it’s important to note that students in this age group benefit from having parents involved in their activities. Joining them at GROW once a month can be something you look forward to with your student as a way to connect during this time of intense transition from childhood to adolesence.

    • Parent volunteers assist in various ways depending on the program. At this age range, tasks for parent helpers might include helping students navigate peer relational tasks such as group collaboration, conflict resolution, and self-regulation. Tasks could also be more hands-on, such as helping a group of students determine how to construct a basic shelter with only the supplies found growing in the forest system. Each of these activities offers you an opportunity to expand your own knowledge and skill set while also having fun with your child. Thank you in advance for your participation in this parent-involved model for our program. 

  • Registration fee reserves your child's place in the class for the month. Each class stands alone so your child will not be "behind" if they must miss a class. GROW seeks to protect the privacy and safety of all learners within our community. Please be mindful with regards to taking videos or photographs during programming time.

  • The GROW project site is entirely outdoors, with no access to running water or electricity. This means that we do not have access to indoor shelter in inclement weather. In the event that a scheduled program must be cancelled, we do not conduct a ‘make-up’ class. This is, in-part, due to the fact that our project site is frequently in use by other groups (such as corporate volunteers or public school field trips) on subsequent days of the week.

  • Siblings under the age of three in the care of a parent with another child enrolled do not require registration.

  • We maintain a portapotty at the project site during the programming season for use by our students. The nearest public bathroom facility is located on the other side of Two Rivers Park near “Wave Country” and the skate park.

  • Once your registration is complete, you will receive additional information regarding the class schedule, drop off and pick up procedures, and more.

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All of GROW's programs at the garden lab are entirely outdoors. It is important that students arrive prepared to engage in nature and cope with varying weather conditions. We recommend dressing in layers for early spring and fall, and dressing in light weight breathable fabrics during hot summer months. Also, Middle TN is home to an abundance of insects including ticks, chiggers, and mosquitoes. Please be sure to take appropriate precautions to protect your child from these pests. It is advisable that children wear closed-toed shoes to the garden lab to protect their feet from sharps, stinging insects, or snakes that may be hidden in grass or leaf litter inside the forest. These simple steps help to ensure your child is comfortable while at GROW and able to focus on the joy of learning in nature. 

Finally, please be sure your child always brings a small, peanut-free, healthy snack and a reusable water bottle to GROW. We will provide a water bottle refill station at the garden.  Having a backpack to put these items in will make hiking much more enjoyable for your child.