Thirteen years ago, Washington Elementary teachers Shanna Karlin and Becky Nielson looked out their windows and saw an opportunity.
An overgrown, weed-filled outdoor space outside the teachers’ classrooms needed attention. The two teachers had an eye for gardening and quickly saw the potential for new learning opportunities by revitalizing the once-overlooked space.
“We asked if there was a possibility of turning it into a garden space that could be used for learning we we received approval,” Karlin said.
From there, the pair transformed the area into a garden using their own funds. Two years later, Karlin and Nielson received a $5,000 grant from the Fremont Area Community Foundation to make the garden a permanent fixture at the elementary school.
Years later, the garden has continued to thrive at the school while also giving its students a first-hand opportunity to experience gardening.
Every year, Nielson and Karlin bring interested students into the garden to plant flowers at the beginning of the summer. Nielson said seeing the kids react to the growth of the garden during the summer as they return to school is one of the driving forces behind the garden’s continued growth.
“Seeing the kids react to coming back to school in the fall and seeing how much it has grown after planting it in the spring really is what keeps me going,” Nielson said. “That’s what makes me want to take time out of the day to plant with children every year.”