Well, what a year it’s been…

I began my role as a program coordinator with Kruckeberg last December. Fresh out of grad school, I was eager to start working with a small nonprofit like Kruckeberg. Eager to put what I had learned into practice and further the work my predecessor (and many others!) had done to create nature-based programming at the Garden. 

By March, I felt like I finally had my feet under me; I was ready for field trips! Garden Tots! And bring on summer camps! And then, just as quickly, the rug was pulled out from beneath my freshly planted feet, beneath all of ours, as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded. 

Yet through the upheaval of the year, I’ve also experienced so much to be thankful for, so much to be proud of, and so much to look forward to in the new year. I was incredibly fortunate to work with so many creative, caring, and curious students this year. So many highlights and fond memories to reflect on, it’s hard to choose just a few. Of course, my best memories came from the students. And while many of these events would be too long and take too much context to tell properly, I’ll summarize in a few tips, tricks, and rules I learned this year. 

  • Place-based education = play-based education*. No student wants another worksheet this year.
  • Never underestimate a joke told by a 6-year-old, especially if it is made up on the spot. And DO NOT try to take a drink of water while listening to said joke.
  • The best learning opportunities come from the spontaneous opportunities the Garden provides. Whether it’s a hunting owl, a baby rabbit, a cool mushroom, or an unexpected burst of rain, nature has a way of reminding us to learn from what presents itself that day, not what you had planned.
  • No one, no one, can resist a sprinkler. Don’t fight it. 
  • A storybook is not properly read until everyone gets to see each picture at least twice. 
  • Everyone makes the same awkward face and sound when met with an unexpected spiderweb while. 
  • Lastly: Do not give students hammers. This seems like it should be common sense, but while I was concerned about smashed thumbs, I should have been worried about the sound 8 kids with hammers can make. I sincerely apologize to any napping neighbors, babies, and my boss – whose office was just above us. 

So goodbye and good riddance to 202o. I can’t wait to see what 2021 brings.



Emma MacDonald, Program Coordinator


*A wonderful phrase coined by a friend