University of California-Davis Lab School

The ECL initiated a new design process with Nature Explore with the purpose of generating a master plan for what will be three new outdoor learning spaces at our site. This process included two training and visioning sessions for ECL staff and other campus stakeholders. Invitations were extended to scholars of Native American Studies, as well as Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design and Human Development students enrolled at UC Davis; a total of 1 post-doctoral student and 12 undergraduates were in attendance across the two offered meetings. These sessions enhanced staff knowledge, established new working relationships, and solidified the vision for the newly designed spaces. The current implementation process and associated professional development will extend into the 2022-2023 academic year.


Select staff have been assigned summer reading focusing on the knowledge of Indigenous people, stewardship, and early childhood pedagogy. These assigned readings are directly related to a primary goal of the ECL outdoor classroom redesign process–to acknowledge land use and engage in symbolic reparations for the Patwin people (whose land our program sits upon). Additional goals include highlighting local flora and fauna, and featuring sustainable design. The attached Venn diagram illustrates the three primary initiatives of this project and their overlapping spheres of influence. The past, present, and future are all intertwined, much like braided Sweat grass. As you can probably tell, we are inspired by book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants written by botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer. We look forward to applying the lessons included in her book to our programming for young children.