How long is the ECO program? Our program consists of 18 weeks, broken into 2 semesters. The Fall semester is 8 weeks and runs from late August - early December and the Spring semester is 10 weeks and runs from January - early May.
What day is the ECO program on and what are the times? The Pathfinders and Explorers programs meet every other Tuesday unless there is a holiday. And the Trailblazers and Adventurers programs meet every other Thursday unless there is a holiday. The Pathfinders and Trailblazers meet from 10:00 am - 12:30 pm. The Adventurers, Explorers and Navigators meet from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm. The Teen Naturalist program meets on Friday from 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm. We ask that students try to arrive 10 minutes early for class. View the calendar here.
Are there any additional class dates that aren't listed on the calendar? Yes, the Teen Naturalists will be encouraged to attend optional fieldtrip's at local venues. These may include lectures, college lab fieldtrips, etc. We also hope to offer a few optional fieldtrip opportunities to compliment our themes, such as fieldtrips to Liberty Wildlife and Phoenix Herpetological Society.
What topics will be covered during the year? The Pathfinders and Trailblazers themes will be Feathered Friends in the Fall and Scaly Slimy Creatures in the Spring. The Adventurers themes will be Awesome Arthropods in the Fall and Flying Wild in the Spring. And the Explorers themes will be Marvelous Mammals in the Fall and Ethnobotany and Survival Skills in the Spring.
What ages/grades may attend ECO? We are expanding our program offerings in the Fall and will be offering 5 so that we can better serve families.
Is the program drop off? Our Adventurer, Explorer, Navigator and Teen Naturalist programs are optional drop off. On the registration form you will be asked to list any adults authorized to pick up your children from class, their IDs will be checked. Our Pathfinders and Trailblazers programs will require a parent/caregiver staying with and assisting their child(ren).
Are there sibling discounts? Yes we offer a $20 sibling discount. And for siblings that will be tagging along with older siblings and may not be participating in all of the activities but do want to do some of them we now offer an option to pay a supply fee rather than the full tuition.
What is included in the cost of the program? The majority of the class materials are included, except those indicated in the following FAQ. We hope to include several field tools, like a magnifying glass, ruler, etc....we are still trying to find sponsors and/or obtain donations to help purchase these items. Each child enrolled will also receive a goodie bag filled with valuable resources including a pencil, bookmark, eraser, bug catcher and more from our sponsors.
What materials will I need to provide for classes? More details coming soon.
Where will classes be held? We have 3 class locations for 2021-2022: Our Pathfinders, Adventurers and Explorers programs will be held at Mansel Carter Park (Queen Creek) in the Fall and Gilbert Riparian Preserve (Gilbert) in the Spring. Our Trailblazers program will be meeting at North Mountain Park (Casa Grande) in the Fall and Spring. All of these locations offer everything we need to meet our program goals. All of these locations are accessible via public transportation. We are still finalizing the location for our Teen Naturalist program.
*ECO has no affiliation with these parks and the City of Queen Creek, City of Gilbert, and City of Casa Grande assume no liability.
What about the heat? Since we are an outdoor education program we will be outside during all temperatures. Children should be dressed appropriately for the weather, we always recommend layers. And they should always have water and a water bottle for each class. We will have additional jugs of water for refilling throughout the day. All locations will have a a pavilion or ramada. In addition we will have a pop up canopy for additional shade. We will also have spray bottles with water for misting, small handheld fans and some cooling towels that kids can borrow. Our daily schedule may vary as well during hotter days, for example we will do our hike earlier in the day when temperatures are lower.
What if it rains? Classes are held rain or shine. We will have a canopy to provide shelter from the elements.
What about restrooms? There will be restrooms at both of our locations. We will always have extra toilet paper, baby wipes and hand sanitizer on hand for students.
How do I know if this program is right for my child? Participating Pathfinders, Trailblazers, Adventurers, Explorers and Navigators should have a love for the outdoors, be open to new experiences, be active and be willing to participate in all daily activities (nature journaling, hands on learning activities, citizen scientist projects, arts/crafts and exploratory play). Teen Naturalists should have a desire to dive deeper into learning about the natural world. They will accomplish this through fieldwork, volunteering and stewardship projects.
What if my child misses a class? We understand absences are bound to happen. ECO classes do not necessarily build upon one another so missing a class will not put your child behind or at a disadvantage. We will do our best to keep all children up to date, by posting updates about what we did in class on our blog and on the ECO Google Classroom (open only to currently enrolled families). When applicable we will provide parents with any resources the children may have missed. No refunds or make-up classes are offered.
What if there is a crisis event? In the event of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger ECO may need to postpone a class. Depending on the circumstances we may still offer class, but with some modifications. However we understand families need to make choices that are best for their family and we respect your personal decision to not attend class if you choose. In either of these cases we will offer make up class options, make class materials available on Google Classroom and make sure students receive any hard copy resources and materials. No refunds will be issued.
After I register my child what happens? After you complete your registration form, agree to the policies and waiver and submit your payment we will review your registration. Please allow up to 48 hrs. After we review and accept your registration and confirm payment has been sent we will send you a confirmation email with a link to join our secret Google Classroom, our contact information, a class schedule and other important information.
What is the Google Classroom? All parents with currently enrolled children will need to join our secret Google Classroom. Here we will share updates about what your children are learning and photos. It is also a good place to ask any questions and communicate with other parents. This program is free and also has a phone app.
What about lunch? You will be required to have your child bring a packed lunch to class each day with their name on it that will NOT include any nut products. We will eat lunch from 12:00 pm - 12:30 pm as a group. Children should also bring a snack if they need one.
What do children need to do, to be prepared for each class? Children MUST be prepared each week for class with the following:
**If we are expecting to have a creek day we will be sure to alert parents in advance so children can come prepared with extra clothing, water shoes, etc.
Is there any mandatory homework? There may be times that students will need to complete homework assignments. For example we may ask students to conduct research for an activity or project we are working on in class, since this is something that can be difficult for us to complete in the field without internet access. Or we may ask that students watch a video before class, or gather items to bring to class. Our goal is to supplement your child's education, not overtake it, so homework will be kept to a minimum. Homework for the month will not exceed 1-2 hrs and will be posted in our Google Classroom. We have several amazing sponsors that have donated resources, like workbooks, to our ECO program this year. We may not be able to complete all the various resources in class, so your child may come home with these items and will be encouraged to work on them at home, however this is not required.
Will photos be taken of my child? We want parents to be able to see what their children did at class each day so we will be taking photos and posting them onto the Google Classroom each week. We also like to show our social media followers, supporters and sponsors what we are doing at ECO so there is a chance photos could be posted on our social media outlets. When you register your child there is a question on the form that you will need to answer either giving or denying us permission to share your child's photo. We will blur their face out or not share their photo at all if you deny permission. We will never share children's names on social media.
My child has an allergy and/or medical, learning, behavior condition will that be an issue? We are an inclusive program and all children are welcome. We comply to ADA standards and welcome everyone and will accommodate anyway we can. Kathy has worked with children that have autism, dwarfism, down syndrome, dyslexia, dyscalculia, food allergies, Asperger's, ADD, anxiety and more. There is a spot on the registration form where you can list out any conditions we should be aware of. Kathy's own children deal with dyslexia, anxiety, OCD and ADD. And Kathy suffers from several medical conditions (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Posterior Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Adrenal Insufficiency, OCD and dyslexia). If you have concerns about your child's needs before registering please reach out to Kathy. We have made special accommodations (like in the case of the 2 children with Down Syndrome we had in our Atlanta program) such as letting a parent or other caregiver be present with their child at class.
Our family's religion or religious views prevents them from participating in certain things and/or we may have a differing view on certain topics will this be an issue? We welcome all nationalities, ethnicities, races, genders, religions, beliefs and walks of faith. Kathy has taught children from just about every religion, race and ethnicity. Teachers will make every attempt to refrain from mentioning any religion and/or religious beliefs in class. With that being said this is a science heavy program and evolution may come up in some discussions. Generally when Kathy teaches she will mention that evolution is a theory and may differ from from others views/beliefs and that she is in no way discounting anyone's personal views/beliefs. Teaching evolution is not our focus and it is something that may just come up casually in some discussions.
In addition we strongly feel that the Native cultures should be discussed and included in our program's curriculum, especially here in Arizona, where we are lucky enough to still have so much of the past preserved for future generations. Today, Arizona is the proud home to 22 sovereign American Indian communities that serve as the foundational recipe to Arizona’s unique spiritual, cultural, and economic richness. Many of the topics we will be focusing on in the ECO program tie into Native culture (like the canal systems which we learned from and still rely on today) and there is so much we can learn about the natural world from those who lived off the land, long before we were here. As you can see we even included the Native cultures on our new Arizona logo.
And lastly due to the many varying views on holidays, holiday celebrations will be refrained from being celebrated at ECO.
What about politics, is that something that gets brought up in class? We know politics can be a touchy subject, just like religion, so we try to avoid any politic debates. However there are times it could come up in discussions: like when discussing water rights, conservation, land management, agricultural growth, climate change etc. Again no personal views will be imposed and we will encourage children to make up their own mind on the subject, discuss it with their parents or research it further.
Parent Involvement Questions:
What is required of parents? It is the parents responsibility to make sure their children are dropped off and picked up on time for class. It is also the parents responsibility to make sure their children are prepared for class each day. As indicated, several questions above, children may be given mandatory and/or optional homework assignments. We ask that parents provide their children with the assistance needed to complete these assignments. At home assignments will not exceed 2 hrs for the month. Parents should also make sure they have gone over behavior expectations with their children.
May parents volunteer? We may have opportunities throughout the year where we will need parent volunteers. We will post about these on the Google Classroom.
ECO Leader Related Questions:
Where can I learn more about the Leaders? Please visit our ECO Leaders page.
What is the student to Leader ratio? There will be 10 openings in the Pathfinders, Trailblazers, Adventurers, Explorers and Navigators program. And 7 openings in the Teen Naturalists program. There will be 2 ECO Leaders for the Pathfinders, Trailblazers, Adventurers, Explorers and Navigators program. There will be 1 ECO Leader for the Teen Naturalist program
Are ECO instructors first aid certified and CPR certified? All ECO Leaders will be CPR and first aid certified before class starts in August.
If you have additional questions please email us.