ECO Program Related Questions:

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 August - November (no class for the month of December) and the Spring semester is 10 weeks and runs from January - May.

What day is the ECO program on and what are the times? The ECO program meets every other Tuesday unless there is a holiday. We meet from 10:00 am - 2 pm. Please arrive by 9:45 am. View the calendar here.

Are there any additional class dates that aren't listed on the calendar? Yes, the ECO Navigators (4th-9th grade) will be gathering and utilizing GIS (Geographic Information System) data to create a Phenology Story Map. This Story Map will be a fully functional online product used to educate the public about our local ecosystem. Two additional inside class times (one in the fall and a second one in the spring) will be scheduled at a later date to teach the Navigators how to gather their data, find GPS coordinates, compile the data in Excel. The inside class time will likely be at a local library and a poll to decide on the dates will be created within the Google Classroom forum. No additional cost is required for this project as ECO has received complimentary educational ArcGIS account. Kathy has already created a sample a story map which can be viewed at - Story Map Wildflower Nature Walk.

What topics will be covered during the year? You can view our syllabus here. This syllabus will show you the topics, subjects, skills and key vocab that will be covered throughout the year.

How does a typical ECO day look? You can view an example of our daily schedule here.

What ages/grades may attend ECO? Due to increased interest, we are expanding our program and we will be offering a K-3rd grade program (ages 5-8 yrs old) and a 4th-9th grade program (ages 9-15 yrs old). Our K-3rd group will be referred to as ECO Explorers and our 4th-9th group will be referred to as ECO Navigators. 

We are firm on the ages for each group. We completely understand that some 7 and 8 yr olds may be ahead in subjects, however because of their maturity level and attention spans we prefer they be with peers their age. The majority of the activities for the 4th-9th grade program will be Middle/High School activities. We will be assuming that the 4th-9th grade age group has already covered a lot of the "science basics" and has good foundational knowledge of many of the science topics we will be covering (like how plants grow, the water cycle, rock cycle, etc). Our goal will be to dig deeper into these topics, while we learn and discuss things like sustainability, conservation, biodiversity, adaptations, land ethics, phenology, how they pertain directly to AZ, educating others, improving observational and scientific process skills, what being a naturalist means, data collection (qualitative and quantitative data), etc.

Is the program drop off? Our 4th-9th grade program is 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 K-3rd program will require a parent/caregiver staying with and assisting your child(ren).

How much is the tuition? Please visit our tuition page.

Are there sibling discounts? Yes visit our tuition page.

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 foldable microscope, 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, nature field guides and more from our sponsors.

What materials will I need to provide for classes? We have tried to keep the cost of the program as low as possible and have tried to include as many supplies as possible in the cost, however there are some class materials that parents will need to provide.  

  • White t-shirt - we will be tie dying shirts on the first day and these will be your child's ECO class shirt
  • Orienteering compass - here is a link to the one I recommend
  • Camera - phone with a camera, basic digital camera or disposable camera
  • Binoculars - here is a link to the one I recommend, you may be able to find cheaper ones with the same magnification of 10x32. I do have about 8 pairs that can be borrowed during class but they are not the best quality.
  • Sand County Almanac Aldo Leopold book (4th-9th program) and/or Chloe and the Desert Heroes book (K-3rd program) $6 per book (plus shipping) if we place a bulk order, this will be discussed further upon enrollment.
  • If your child is in the K-3rd grade program you will need to pay a parking fee at 3 of the locations. If your child is in the 4th-9th grade program you will not need to pay the parking fee at 2 of the locations, since you are just dropping off. 
  • Quest pins if your child chooses to participate, see more on this program below.

Above you indicated a book(s) that will need to be purchased, what is the required reading assignment and why is this being incorporated? We are trying something a little new this year and will be incorporating a book into each of our programs. The text is not difficult and the reading will be completed over several months. The 4th-9th grade will be reading A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold and K-3rd grade will be reading Chloe and the Desert Heroes. They will read approximately 1-3 chapters per month between August and March. We will be doing activities and/or nature journaling assignments over the course of the year that correlate with these books.

Sand County Almanac: This book is a combination of natural history, scene painting with words, and philosophy. It is perhaps best known for the following quote, which defines his land ethic: "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise." A couple chapter's in the book are even dedicated to Leopold's adventures in Arizona and New Mexico. We will be utilizing the Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, Leopold Education Project curriculum which facilitates interdisciplinary exploration of both the arts and sciences. The curriculum is designed to help students understand human connections to the natural world through hands-on, inquiry-based, outdoor experiences, building skills in observation, plant and animal identification, land stewardship, natural history, writing and reflection, and environmental values. 

Chloe and the Desert Heroes: This book is a coming-of-age tale about 12-year old Chloe who gets lost in the desert when her dog chases a rabbit. She encounters familiar desert animals—the book’s heroes—who help her learn important lessons not only about the Sonoran Desert but how to deal with school bullies.  

Where will classes be held? Our 2019-2020 program will be at various location's. The location's can be viewed on this Google Map. Locations were chosen to compliment the topics to be covered each month. For example Papago Park is a great place to learn about geology.

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 have water bottles for misting and we are also hoping to have 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 temps are lower. Oh and there is a chance we will be getting wet at rivers/creeks or splash pads (we will let you know when this is a possibility so you and your child can be prepared).

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 most of our locations. For the locations that don't have restrooms we will have a pop up stall with a toilet bucket. We will always have on hand extra toilet paper, baby wipes and hand sanitizer.

How do I know if this program is right for my child? Participating children 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).

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.

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 you keep mentioning? 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 bring a snack if they need one.

What is Quest Club and is it mandatory? Quest Club is a program similar to Scouts. Children will complete various tasks which will earn them badges (pins). ECO Leaders will complete all required paperwork and submit the necessary forms for the children to receive their pins. It is non mandatory that children participate in the program. If you wish for your child to participate, there will be added fees of approximately $2-$4 per month which will be billed via PayPal. To learn more about Quest Club click here.

What do children need to do, to be prepared for each class? Children MUST be prepared each week for class with the following: 

  • Appropriate clothing for the weather, layers are always recommended. Children must wear closed toed shoes at all times.
  • Wearing their ECO Explorers t-shirt (we will be making tie dye shirts on the first day)
  • A packed lunch with their name on it. PLEASE AVOID any nut products for the safety of the other children.
  • An extra pair of clothes/shoes if it is a rainy day or creek day.
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen (we will have extra, but will only use it if you give us the okay in the registration form).
  • Their backpack with any necessary supplies for the day.
  • Any necessary medications (EPI pen, inhaler, etc) with their name on them.
  • A snack should they need something to eat before 12:00 pm or eat again after lunch.
  • A water bottle filled with water or another beverage to keep they hydrated throughout the day (we will also have water on hand should any child run out and need more).

**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.

What is the phenology project that the kids will be doing? Phenology is  the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in  relation to climate and plant and animal life. Many people have used  phenology throughout history including the Native Americans, Aldo  Leopold, Audubon, the Ancient Romans and many more. It is a great way to  see how humans are impacting the environment, how things change over  the seasons, how water or lack of water affects nature, etc. Each group  will be completing a phenology project that will be ongoing throughout  the year. The Navigators will be utilizing the ArcGIS to create theirs  and the Explorers will be creating a phenology wheel. On the first day  of class they will be given instructions about the project and will  choose their study subject from a list we will provide.

Is there any mandatory homework? As of now the only mandatory assignments will be the reading assignments (mentioned above) and the phenology projects (mentioned above) that both programs will be completing. These will ongoing assignments, taking place between August and March and may need to be worked on in between classes, at home. Homework for the month will not exceed 2 hrs. There may be some other required assignments like watching a video before class, or gathering 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 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. 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.

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 our ECO Leaders page.

What is the student to Leader ratio? There will be 15 openings for the ECO Navigators (4th-9th grade) and 15 openings for the ECO Explorers (K-3rd grade). With the Leaders children there will be a total of 19 in the Navigator's program and 16 in the Explorer's program. There will be 2 ECO Leaders for the Navigators. And only 1 ECO Leader for the Explorers, since parents are required to stay for this age group.

Are ECO instructors first aid certified and CPR certified? All instructors will be CPR and first aid certified before class starts in August. 

If you have additional questions please email us.