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Backpack Biology | Print |

“The wonder is that we can see these trees and not wonder more."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Backpack Biology Photos

Dear Educators,

Each year thousands of school age children visit Clark Gardens Botanical Park. We offer educational field trips to area school districts at no charge to either the school district or to the students. Students can study butterflies and gardening, experience United States history while touring the Historical Tree Trail, lose themselves in their imagination at the Clark train depot watching our G-scale model trains meander through a diorama of North Central Texas, picnic in a pavilion alongside a lily-filled lake, and be awed by our swans, peacocks, ducks, turtles, lizards and yes even snakes! For many children this is a one of a kind opportunity.

lizard photo by Jann, butterfly by Les, dragonfly by Larry

We are introducing a program for you and your students: Backpack Biology. The curriculum, designed for students K-5th grade, integrates science, social studies, math and language arts and is centered on the tree system. The comprehensive curriculum includes pre and post-visit classroom activities.

Each lesson plan includes all material need to complete on-site visit:

  • Part One - Pre-visit classroom activities introducing students to Clark Gardens and the science of tree systems.
  • Part Two - Visit to Clark Gardens to study the tree system.
  • Part Three - Post-visit classroom activities.

Participants will receive training on the lesson, discuss implementation with peers, and ask questions of Clark Garden staff. The day’s activities include lunch and a garden tour.

To access the curriculum and to schedule a classroom visit to Clark Gardens incorporating Backpack Biology, teachers must attend an in-service training session.

A visit to Clark Gardens is the perfect field trip,
offering fun and adventure
in one of the State’s most beautiful outdoor classrooms.

Backpack Biology - Developed by Jo Ann Collins

Backpack Biology was developed for Clark Gardens by JoAnn Collins. JoAnn is a retired public educator with 29 years teaching with the Arlington ISD. She was inspired by her own love of the outdoors to start an urban garden at her school. This experience led to being involved in a grassroots movement in Fort Worth called REAL School Gardens to educate students about their own place in the world and how to preserve local environment. She is a certified Master Naturalist and volunteers at several local wildscapes, in addition to remaining involved in the first school garden she started.

She developed the Backpack Biology program in response to Clark Gardens’ need for an educational program utilizing their historic tree trail. The historic tree trail at Clark Gardens contains over 100 ancestors of trees that have witnessed events such as the Civil War and even seeds that traveled to the moon. This program will help students understand the historic importance of trees and forests as well as aid in the understanding of the science of nature to help schools improve state science scores.

The program includes work to be done on local school campuses as well as the field study to be done at Clark Gardens. Schools have incorporated a visit to the Mineral Wells State Park with the trip to Clark Gardens to give students a well-rounded experience with cultivated gardens and native environments.

JoAnn is available to help coordinate and teach the backpack program for students at the garden and/or for training at individual schools. Contact Clark Gardens for fee schedule and availability.