2014 Park in the Dark Dates

June 23rd, 2014 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Night time is special at the Arboretum – the people and cars are gone, and the nocturnal animals move about. Night hikes are a chance for us to explore our senses, search for crepuscular and nocturnal movements in the forest and learn about night-related animal adaptations. Programs are designed for families with children aged 5-12. Meet at the Graham Visitors Center and BYOF (Bring Your Own Flashlight!)
Hikes are always from 8-9:30pm on the Saturday nights listed below:

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  • June 28 (New Moon)
  • July 12 (Full Moon)
  • July 26 (New Moon)
  • August 9 (Full Moon)
  • August 23 (New Moon)

Cost is $8 per person
Register online or call 206-685-8033

Pre-registration is required. This allows our instructor to properly plan and prepare for each class so that you and your family can get the most out of it. Drop-ins are not accepted.

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Step Outside This Summer

February 4th, 2014 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Summer Camp at the Washington Park Arboretum is starting its fourth year with more weeks and themes than ever. Kids from 6-12 years can go on weekly adventures featuring bugs, birds, frogs, trees, weeds, and even an art and cooking show.

Learn more about the 2014 Summer Camp at the UW Botanic Gardens!

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Fiddleheads Winter Series

December 19th, 2013 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

A new year brings new faces, fresh starts, and a new Fiddleheads series! Join Teacher Kate this winter in exploring the Washington Park Arboretum using all of our senses. Each week will be a different theme including:

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  • Rain, Water and Mud!
  • Ice and Snow
  • Hibernation
  • Nature Through Our Noses
  • Sounds of the Forest
  • Roots, Shoots, and Bark
  • Decomposers Are My Friends
  • I Can Be A Scientist
  • Dinosaurs and Fossils
  • Signs of Spring
  • Turtles, Beavers, and Wetlands
  • How Animals Move

 

So this winter, join us for a class of nature connection activities and outdoor play. Each week’s activities include art projects, games, learning stations focusing on fine and gross motor and pre-literacy skills based around the theme, as well as hiking and exploring the park and letting the children’s interests lead the way. Fun for parents and their preschoolers!

Classes meet Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays from 10am-12pm at the Washington Park Arboretum. More information about the classes.

$18/class for 1 adult and 1 child. Additional child: $9/class.

Discount for 6 or more classes! ($14/class, $7 for additional child)

Register online or call 206.685.8033

 

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“Wanna Touch the Sap with Me?” A Parent’s Perspective

November 18th, 2013 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

By guest blogger Karah Pino

“Wanna touch the sap with me?”

This is the question posed by my 3-year-old every Tuesday and Thursday morning when he gets to Fiddleheads Forest School in the Washington Park Arboretum. It is his first stop before each class and he excitedly invites me or anyone else who is around to join him. The sap he is investigating comes from an extraordinary source, just outside of Forest Grove, the preschool center. A tall ponderosa pine tree whose bark has bubbled and buckled from some kind of fungus beneath the surface creates constant streams of sap pouring down in a slow-moving waterfall from 20 feet up its trunk. The sap is moving so slowly we have found spider webs build in the crevices of the bark with a lone drip suspended in the silk.

I encourage Alvin to dust his hands in dirt before touching the sap to make it easier to remove later, but he doesn’t always remember. That’s ok with me, though, because the fragrant scent of pine sap reminds me of my own childhood in New Mexico, playing in the pine trees and junipers. It also reminds me of why I started looking for an outdoor preschool two years ago to give my son the opportunities I had to explore nature free from the ever-present boundaries and dangers of the urban environment we are surrounded by in so much of Seattle.

IMG_7995When I discovered that Fiddleheads was expanding to a full year preschool located in the middle of the Arboretum, I felt as if the universe had bent around to fulfill this dream! I knew it was perfect when I discovered that forest grove is just across from the ancient Sequoia grove I loved to visit as an undergrad at the University of Washington when I lived near the Arboretum. The colors of autumn have been incredible to view each week driving to the school and the wide variety of leaves, berries, nuts and seed pods seems unending. After drop off or before pick up, I make some time for myself to enjoy the smells, sounds, sights and sightings alongside my child, so we can share the magic of the of the forest together. (I’m sure I saw a coyote tail bouncing in the brush one day!)

Occasionally, I will hear the sounds of little voices adventuring along as I am on my own walk and feel their excitement and wonder well up inside of me. I love to watch from afar as they gather sticks to build a “fire” or leaves to pile up and roll in and I inwardly thank all the forces, voices and advocates who came together to create this fantastic program.

Although my favorite sequoia grove is protected by a fence now to protect the fragile roots, their giant trunks and strong presence are a perfect example of why the Arboretum is such a treasure for Seattlites of all ages and I hope there will be many more classes of preschoolers and homeschoolers and every other age of schoolers out in appreciation all year round in this wonderous place!

(Karah Pino, MAcOM is the delighted parent of a Fiddlehead’s Forest student, the social media coordinator for the Women of Wisdom Foundation and she manages the blog Unwind your Mind and Get Creative!

 

 

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Kids’ Photo Contest Winners!

October 16th, 2013 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

We had a remarkable showing this year at the 2013 Kids Photo Contest.  A big thanks and round of applause to all the great kids that entered! We have selected our winners in 5 categories.

Artwork will be displayed at in the Graham Visitors Center on a rotating basis, and for the month of November, the photos will be on display at Katy’s Corner Cafe located at 2000 E Union St Seattle, WA 98122. Although not everyone who entered won a category, every contestant will have a photo printed and displayed.

See all the pictures in our Flickr Group Pool!

Color

Dylan Totten 4 color

Taken by Dylan, Age 4

Landscape

Logan Cox land

Taken by Logan, Age 10

Architecture

John Totten 5 arch

Taken by John, Age 5

Animals

mystery kid 3 animal

If this is your picture, please email uwbgeduc@uw.edu with your name and age!

New Places

Maeve Anderson 16 ArchTaken by Maeve, Age 16

 

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Fiddleheads Forest School Opens

September 19th, 2013 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

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The changing hues at the Washington Park Arboretum these days signal a transition.  Many of the deciduous trees that make up our collection are booting down in preparation for winter dormancy.  Despite these seasonal changes amongst the plants, however, there is an exciting new energy in the air, one of growth and development.  The source of this vibrancy is the newest and youngest members of our UW Botanic Gardens community – the inaugural class of our Fiddleheads Forest School.

This new endeavor is designed for preschool-aged children, and aims to introduce these 3-5 year olds to the natural world in the best way possible, by immersing them in it.  In gently guiding their innate curiosity, our uber-qualified teachers, Sarah Heller & Kit Harrington, seek to promote the complete development of their students – mental, emotional, physical and social.  A lofty goal to be sure, but one we feel well-worth pursuing.  And judging by the response from the families involved, one for which there is strong desire to be met. 

Innumerable studies point towards the value of early childhood learning.  Businesses and municipalities around the country are recognizing the long-term benefits of starting kids off on the right foot and are making investments in hopes of creating a more competent and competitive work force down the road.  These “Grow Smart” initiatives can be found in states across the country and make the connection between regional economic growth and the importance of early childhood education.  It behooves organizations like ours that lean green to join this movement if we are to have any hope of achieving a more sustainable relationship with the Earth.   

Richard Louv sounded the alarm in his now seminal book, “Last Child in the Woods”, in which he coined the term “nature deficit disorder” to describe a social byproduct of the information age.  Louv pointed out that while kids and people in general become more and more plugged in to a virtual world, they simultaneously become less and less connected to the natural one.  Disconnection leads to a loss or lack of appreciation, and in the Environmental Education world, appreciation is the first step towards conservation.

Over a year in the making, we are now almost two weeks into our first year of the Fiddleheads Forest School.  We have twenty-four families who have taken this exciting plunge with us and we couldn’t be more grateful for their trust and support.  The spectacular outdoor classroom that is the UWBG Washington Park Arboretum has never felt more perfect a space than with this new application.  And we could not have found a more dynamic duo than Sarah & Kit to lead this adventure.  So two weeks in, and I’m happy to report, so far, so so good. 

Are we winning the battle in combating nature deficit disorder?  Only time will tell.  At the UW Botanic Gardens we work a lot with trees and perhaps as a result, we think like trees and take a long-term approach.  The seeds we plant today, we plant to ensure healthy forests for tomorrow.  With this mentality, we hope that when these 3-5 year olds grow up to have 3-5 year olds of their own, that outdoor schools for early learners are commonplace, and that we as a society will have had the forethought to set aside spaces like the Arboretum in which to hold them.  

Kit reads a book about emotions during story time

Kit reads a book about emotions during story time

 

Sarah unleashes bubbles that elicit shrieks of joy and fits of dancing

Sarah unleashes bubbles that elicit shrieks of joy and fits of dancing


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Announcing the 2nd Annual Kid’s Photography Contest!

August 6th, 2013 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Are you a kid (or know one) between 4 and 16 that has access to a digital camera? Join our Kid’s Digital Photography Contest!

All you have to do is join the UW Botanic Gardens Flickr Group Pool and submit photos in one or more categories.

Link to more information and contest rules.

Last year’s entries!

 

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Bioblitz 2013 – What’s hatching in the Arboretum?

May 15th, 2013 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan
Northwestern Salamander eggs discovered by our guest herpetologists from the PNW Herpetological Society.

Northwestern Salamander eggs discovered by our guest herpetologists from the PNW Herpetological Society.

May is a vibrant month at the UWBG’s Washington Park Arboretum.  The show that the Olmstead Bros. firm had in mind when they designed Azalea Way back in the 1920′s reaches maximum glory as fading cherry blossoms hand over the reins to innumerable phonograph-shaped blooms that wall the 1/2 mile promenade.  It’s easy to be swept up in the colors and scents of spring, so gaudy and distracting, but there is vibrancy beyond the blooms as well.  The soil has reached a consistent warmth, the night time air has lost its bite and everywhere is teaming with insects.  They’ve timed their reappearance perfectly with the lime-green growth in the park, as have the bats, birds and frogs to eat them.  What better time to hold a bioblitz.

 May 10th/11th marked our third full-on blitz, and our second spring-time one.  (We’re on an 18-month spring/fall cycle).  The inaugural UWBG Bioblitz took place around this same time of year in 2010 and focused on the north end, Foster Island.  Our focus this time was on the middle third of our 230 acres – the heart of our “native matrix”.

The "green zone".

The “green zone”.

Jenni Cena & Liam Stacey, guest entomologists, examine a catch

Jenni Cena & Liam Stacey, guest entomologists, examine a catch

Declaring a focal area is pretty arbitrary speaking to birders and mammal trackers – they cover as much territory as their quarry.  For the entomologists I tagged along with during the first taxa team shift on Friday afternoon, however, we’d hardly left the greenhouse before the Siren’s song crashed us on a grove of cedars to pick and dig and shake and catch.  They indulged and in the process trained their few citizen-scientist tagalongs, and then I pried them away to plunk them in the “green zone”, a 200,000 sq. ft. square in the middle third.  We made it through about 1.5 of the 100′ x 100′ grid squares on our map.

 

Greg Vargas and other UW students use clinometers to approximate the height of a large redcedar in our "Native Matrix"

Greg Vargas and other UW students use clinometers to approximate the height of a large redcedar in our “Native Matrix”

The plant team was moving at a similar pace because this year we decided to do something a little different.  The WPA has within it’s collection around 10,400 specimens.  We have information on all of them, information like where they came from, when they were planted, by whom, etc.  Also within the WPA, however, are acres of more or less natural areas, our “native matrix” comprised of big old native trees that regrew from seed after the site was last harvested in 1896.  About these trees, we have very little information.

So for bioblitz, we teamed up with Lisa Ceicko from Forterra to begin an inventory of our native trees using i-Tree protocols.  I-Tree is a program that when you enter in some basic data like tree type, diameter, height, etc., it spits out numbers representing various ecosystem services that a given tree is providing.  King County (also with Lisa’s help) is in the midst of completing their Integrated Urban Forest Assessment aimed to determine how much carbon is being sequestered, air/water  being purified, habitat provided, etc. by Seattle’s trees using the same program.  We aim to do the same with our big old natives.  During Bioblitz, we made it through almost three grid squares…only 592 more to go.

After that first shift it was time for dinner and a lecture with this year’s guest speaker, Paul Bannick.  If you haven’t seen Paul speak, you should, but regardless, you’ve ever opened up a bird book, you’ve probably seen his photographs as his work is featured in all the good ones.  His book, The Owl & the Woodpecker, inspired a traveling exhibit created by the Burke Museum and he’s won a couple really big awards over the past few years, one from Audubon Magazine the other from Canon.  His talk and slideshow focused on owls, and gave those in attendance a glimpse into his next book.  It was both fascinating and beautiful.

Paul Bannick's talk was filled with extraordinary shots like this one.

Michelle Noe of Bats Northwest, shares her passion for these misunderstood creatures of the night

Michelle Noe of Bats Northwest, shares her passion for these misunderstood creatures of the night

After the talk, half of the next taxa team shift focused on owls as well, the other half, bats.  There lives within the WPA a pair of resident Barred Owls.  They’ve been seen here consistently for the past several years and they’ve reared several successful broods.  It’s nesting season right now, and we know where they’re nesting.  Despite all this, however, the owl team got skunked.  Not even a “who cooks for you”.  The bat team, on the other hand, led by members from Bats Northwest, fared much better.  With their sonar equipment, they recorded hundreds if not thousands of these misunderstood echo-locators, mostly Silver-haired Bats.  I learned that there are 15 bat species in Washington State, 13 of whom live west of the Cascades.  We fear bats for their blood-sucking reputation, yet only 3 species worldwide actually suck blood, and two of those target birds.  Ironically, without bats, we’d lose countless more blood to mosquitoes.  Bats eat 40% of their body weight in insects per night, and as an added bonus they help pollinate night blooming flowers (such as agave for making tequila).

Saturday started with some early morning bird teams (one by land and one by kayaks provided by Agua Verde Paddle Club), a plant team and a mammal tracking team.  The kayakers were happy to see a Spotted Sandpiper as well as a Pied Billed Grebe nest floating on some lily pads.  The land-lubbers were happy to see the owls.  The tracker, Linda Bittle from the Wilderness Awareness School, was just happy to be out of the office.  The day continued with more of the same plus a couple spider team outings with Rod Crawford and one lonely mushroom team.  Sunny springs can be tough on mushrooms and there were several great events competing for mushroom folk attention – a lecture from local legend Paul Stamets Friday night, and Mushroom Mania at the Burke.  We look forward to another fungus-blitz this fall to give this taxa its deserved attention.  And we look forward to continuing our bioblitz tradition for many years to come.  We hope to see you at the next one, and in the meantime, we’ll be doing what we can from a management perspective to sustain and increase the biodiversity in this gem of the Emerald City.

A stinkhorn fungus discovered by our mushroom taxa team Saturday afternoon.

A stinkhorn fungus discovered by our mushroom taxa team Saturday afternoon.

Jonathan Goff and Mallory Clarke from the Cascade Mammal Trackers examine tracks in a tunnel under the Broadmore fence.

Jonathan Goff and Mallory Clarke from the Cascade Mammal Trackers examine tracks in a tunnel under the Broadmore fence.


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“The Life of Owls” with Paul Bannick

May 6th, 2013 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

Join internationally acclaimed photographer, Paul Bannick, at the Washington Park Arboretum May 10, Friday evening from 7pm-8pm for a visual and auditory exploration of the life of North American Owls. With his stunning photographs, Paul will walk us through all four seasons and all 19 species of owls while touching on their interdependence with other plants and animals.

Paul is this year’s guest speaker at Bioblitz 2013. The fee to attend is $8 per person.

Online registration is now closed. You may pay at the door with cash (exact change), check, or Visa/MaterCard.

When: May 10th 2013, 7pm – 8pm

Where: UWBG’s Washington Park Arboretum, in the Graham Visitors Center
Cost: $8 per person

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UW Botanic Gardens Spring Break and Summer Camps

February 19th, 2013 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

It’s that time of year again when we pull out our calendars and begin to think about summer plans. Consider signing your child up to play and learn outside all summer! We are offering seven weeks of outdoor, nature-based summer camps at the Washington Park Arboretum. New themes have been added like Wetland Rangers and Northwest Naturalists, and kept some of our favorites like Woodland Wonders and Art in the Park.

We are also offering a spring break camp in conjunction with the Seattle Public Schools spring break week. What better way to spend a week in April than exploring our 230 acres of natural wonderland in the heart of Seattle? Spring break is supposed to be a *break* so we plan to play games, go on hikes and adventures through the nooks and crannies of the Arboretum, and tackle projects like building a fort, creating Andy Goldsworthy inspired art and exploring the uses of our native plants.

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Interested in working at our summer camp? Apply to be a Summer Garden Guide!

We also have volunteer opportunities for high school students! Check out our Junior Garden Guide position and application.

 

 

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