Learning About Nature in Nature 

Tower Hill attracts an impressive group of volunteers. One of them, Kate Lord, is a former teacher and currently helps at the Information Desk and as an Education Docent. We asked Kate to share what makes our Garden a great place for educators as we prepare for an Educator Open House on Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 from 4 to 8 pm.  For more information and to register for this free event for K-12 teachers, click here. Thanks, Kate!

Volunteer Kate Lord reading to children at the Wild Rumpus stick sculpture.

By Kate Lord

Tower Hill is a special place, a place where the bounty and beauty of nature is both nurtured and celebrated. The changing venues of the seasons continually offer renewal, inspiration, and are a source of wonder for all who visit. The beautiful gardens, walkways, trails, and water features serve to continually soothe the spirit and remind us of the importance of nature and preserving “all things green in our world. These same spaces also offer many educational opportunities in stunning outdoor classrooms!

Students from Worcester Public Schools look for pollinators at Tower Hill.

Education for all is a cornerstone of Tower Hill programs. Tours and field trips of engaged and happy students led by volunteers and staff are a frequent sight around the grounds throughout the year. The creative and tireless education staff  have developed programs with many lesson plans aligned with state standards, plus they are responsive to revising plans and activities for specific groups. Topics include learning about plant structure, how plants grow, how they reproduce, the importance of good soil, the place of plants in the ecosystem, and how plants benefit our environment.  School groups enjoy library resources, ongoing art exhibits, and beautiful scenery inside and out. Teacher and student feedback has been enthusiastic; they truly enjoy their visits to Tower Hill!

Volunteer Laura Booth helps members of the Worcester Refugee Assistance Program plan seeds.

Volunteering as an Education Docent has become a favorite pastime since retiring from teaching in Southborough 3 years ago (after almost 40 years!). My days spent here have been the merging of some of my life’s passions: teaching children about the natural world and gardening. It is a joy to teach students in an environment that intrigues and motivates them from the moment they step off the bus until it’s time to return to school. Our students seem excited to learn about nature in nature. They love seeing lemons and oranges growing on trees in the conservatories, pitcher plants, the sheer variety of plants, the colors and innovative design of the veggie garden, the systematic garden where plants are classified according to families, the bee boxes, the insects, the wild turkeys and other wildlife, the trails, the view of Mt. Wachusett, the Wild Rumpus stickworks sculpture, and so on and so on…

Students on a field trip pause during their plant scavenger hunt.

The programs offered are always stimulating and “hands on” fun. Kids see plants, touch plants, smell plants, and even plant plants to take home. Witnessing the enthusiasm of engaged kids is an ongoing pleasure.  Two to three hours at Tower Hill creates a lovely respite for teachers and students from the measurable learning and technology of today’s classrooms. Hopefully seeds will take root in these students that will grow into something that will bring an understanding and lifetime appreciation of the natural world that surrounds them.

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