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Using Nature for Learning in Austin

The National Wildlife Federation is collaborating with the Austin Independent School District (AISD) to bring the wonders of outdoor learning and the principles of environmental stewardship to students in Austin’s public schools. The National Wildlife Federation’s school-based programming helps students learn from and develop a connection to nature, while at the same time fostering a culture of sustainability on school campuses. With your support, we can grow and expand this green schools partnership. Learn more below about our world class environmental education program in Austin.

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Schoolyard Habitats

These outdoor garden “classrooms” provide a place for students to learn about wildlife species and ecosystems, hone their academic skills, and nurture their innate curiosity about the natural world. The National Wildlife Federation has worked closely with AISD to create outdoor classrooms on 30 campuses and to train teachers in the use of a nature-focused curriculum to better engage students in science and math and help them meet state learning standards.

Discovery Hill Outdoor Learning Center

The National Wildlife Federation designed and built an outstanding Demonstration Schoolyard Habitat at AISD’s Science and Health Resource Center in 2013. Discovery Hill Outdoor Learning Center connects kids with nature and improves their science and math skills through hands-on experiential learning. Discovery Hill also serves as AISD’s premier training venue to teach science teachers how to implement the field-investigation requirements and many other learning objectives in the Texas State Science Standards. At Discovery Hill teachers learn how to successfully manage classes in the outdoors and gain the confidence necessary to use these outdoor spaces effectively on a regular basis.

See kids learning from nature in our video below:

Eco-Schools USA

The National Wildlife Federation is the U.S. host for Eco-Schools, an international school “greening” program that fosters a culture of sustainability throughout the school community. Eco-Schools uses the built environment (such as school buildings and campuses), technology (such as GPS, weather and earth-monitoring satellites) and natural areas (such as school grounds and gardens) to engage students in stimulating and effective experiential learning. By identifying and addressing an environmental challenge—like wasted water, energy, paper, or food—students acquire the critical-thinking and leadership skills needed for the highly innovative and competitive 21st century workforce.

In October 2012, the National Wildlife Federation entered into a partnership with AISD to implement Eco-Schools USA district-wide. To date 25 AISD campuses have signed up to participate in the Eco-Schools program.


For program information, please contact Marya Fowler, Senior Education Manager.

The National Wildlife Federation has worked in partnership with Keep Austin Beautiful, the Sustainable Food Center, the City of Austin, Children in Nature Collaborative in Austin and the Central Texas Chapter of the US Green Building Council. Our sponsors over the years have included HEB, 3M, Toyota USA Foundation, Austin Water, Native Plant Society of Texas, and Westcave Discovery Center.

To support our work in Austin area schools, please go to or contact Gwen Flory, Regional Philanthropy Officer.

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Where We Work

More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. The National Wildlife Federation is on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 53 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

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