Hello, I am Victoria Hackett
On a lovely spring day, I was walking my then preschooler and kindergartener to school when I noticed an old neglected courtyard next to the school’s front door. My first thought was “What a shame. The school should do something with that dead, sad, lonely space.”
Every day after that, as I walked my kids past that courtyard, I felt this itch, this desire to turn it into a cool outdoor space. A space the kids could use to explore, learn and connect with their curriculum through nature.
So, a few weeks later, as I was picking up my kids one afternoon, I turned to my friend Diane and said, “What do you think about turning that deserted courtyard into an outdoor classroom?” Diane got a twinkle in her eye and said, “That’s a brilliant idea.”
And with that… we were off! We got the community involved, scheduled workdays, and made colorful signs. We coaxed children and teachers alike to come out and plant the herb garden, miniature garden, tee pee garden and pizza garden. Trees, benches, a birdbath and bird houses were donated. And a compost bin! I also wrote a grant to purchase our garden shed and garden tools.
With the help of the community, the kids and the school, the sad and sorry courtyard went from dead and deserted to vibrant, alive and thriving.
And I was hooked!
A garden stewards club formed after school. Wonder started to settle into the space as I volunteered every year for the bulbs planting extravaganza. Before I knew it, I’d become the “unofficial” school garden community organizer.
What I didn’t know at the time was how this experience would change my entire philosophy of education. I will never forget the moment when I met fifth graders who had never planted anything in the ground. The teachers who didn’t instinctively use the garden to teach their lessons outdoors also perplexed me. I became curious.
With my years of experience as an early childhood educator, I began to align myself with the leaders of the Nature-Based Education Movement and found myself facilitating workshops and speaking at conferences on the power of school gardens. I researched and visited outdoor classrooms.
Ever since that fateful spring day, I’ve been on a mission to inspire teachers, parents, and program directors to reconnect children with Nature by making Outdoor Classrooms and creating nature-based curriculums.
The foundation of my work is twofold: to inspire teachers & school communities to make their own outdoor classrooms and to do so on a shoestring budget.
In communicating all the possibilities, I developed a framework for what I call The Four Types of Gardens and a tool shed of methods and resources for cultivating Outdoor Classrooms and Nature Based Teaching
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I believe we need to be playful again. Climb trees, laugh and embrace the child within all of us.
I believe children need to learn how to become stewards of our environment and do so while connecting with their community, their elders, and their peers.
I believe it’s empowering, enlivening and essential for both teachers and students to teach and learn in an outdoor classroom.
I believe it’s all about planting “seeds of inspiration.”
All outdoor spaces are different. Therefore, my work is tailored to fit your programs and individual needs. With a host of key outdoor elements, I work with entire schools/programs, individual schoolteachers, parents, afterschool providers, homeschoolers, and anyone else who wants to connect children with nature to find the best way to create a Nature Immersion Program for all seasons.
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