2019 Fall Semester (ages 7 to 9)

2019 Fall Semester (ages 7 to 9)


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 regular parent involvement 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

Course Overview for the age 7-9 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 7 to 9 years old.

  • Time - Mondays, 10am - 1pm

  • Date range - August 5th to October 28th

  • Location - Two Rivers Park, Donelson

  • Content - environmental science with specific attention to flora and fauna identification, life cycles, habitats, environmental pressures/threats, and the interrelationships between these things

  • 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 our lower elementary age learners. This program has been designed to have a high degree of physical activity, experiential learning, and community development. Through the course of the season we’ll cover a wide range of ecological studies, across several micro-ecosystems located on the property, while building base knowledge of sustainable land management practices under the ‘permaculture’ movement model. this program follows a consistent routine with flexible content, allowing some space for students to be involved in guiding their learning journeys. A typical day at this program includes the following schedule:

  • Drop off (near the Two Rivers Dog Park)

  • Hike through the forest on the McGavock Spring-house Trail (occasionally we will divert some of our education time towards exploring the springs and forest system)

  • “High Five” welcome circle (a special element designed to build a sense of community belonging within the group)

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

  • Group lesson/activity

  • Free choice nature play time (an important time for students to build peer relationships and practice conflict resolution skills)

  • Dismissal

These elements have been carefully selected to create an engaging space for your child to explore nature, build their confidence, and make lasting friendships. Students in this program will participate in various elements of developing and caring for the GROW project site (such as growing and harvesting the gardens, expanding trails, and building new elements within the nature playground area.) Each program day will (normally) include a garden or project site-related task that is tied to the educational unit for the day.

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.

      Parent volunteers assist in various ways depending on the program. Tasks might include helping students on the hike, assisting them in a simple gardening task, and providing supervision for free-choice nature time. 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.