Margaret Noecker Nature Center

Parish School students nature walk
Parish School Grasslands
The Parish School Leaf Rubbing
Parish School Outdoor Classroom
Parish School Water Garden

Where children learn and explore in nature

Margaret Noecker Nature Center on The Parish School campus is a fully integrated, nature-based learning environment that facilitates children’s intellectual, social and emotional development through direct, hands-on engagement with nature.

The Nature Center, with long-range plans that take advantage of The Parish School’s full 17-acre natural landscape, is our commitment to fully integrating nature-based learning into Parish School life. Over the next few years, the Nature Center will grow to be a dedicated campus-wide domain that touches every activity and educational program at our school.

Why is a natural learning environment important?

Children blossom when they’re exposed to hands-on learning and self-guided play in a tactile, stimulating setting. This concept is at the core of the Nature Center's design. Over the next few years, the Nature Center will transform our campus into an outdoor environment that supports our students’ social and intellectual development, creativity and confidence by giving them the gift of nature.

Settings to encourage nature-based learning:

• Outdoor Science Lab
• Weather Station
• Exploration Trails
• Mud Kitchen and Messy Play Area
• Contemplation and Sensory Garden
• Fruit and Vegetable Gardens
• Produce Market
• Ornamental Grass Maze
• Woodland Preserve

The beautiful, well-planned facility is a resource for the larger community as well, with comfortable gathering and event spaces that accommodate activities and meetings for parents and families, homeschooled children, occupational and play therapists, speech-language professionals, educators and community groups.

Margaret Noecker Nature Center is expanding

Phase One of the project, a certified outdoor classroom for young children named Little Acorn Park, opens for learning and play during the 2017-18 school year.  View design plans for Little Acorn Park (PDF).

Initial work has begun on the centerpiece of the Nature Center, called Margaret’s Nature Hub, in memory of Margaret Noecker, former Head of School, who inspired all of us at The Parish School with her love of nature and her belief that a child’s delight in nature animates learning and development.

An early childhood playground, Oak River Exploration Zone, is also planned for future expansion of the Nature Center.

We invite you learn more about what’s planned for the future in our Design Program and Conceptual Master Plan (PDF). 

Contact Us

Terri Garth
Margaret Noecker Nature Center Chair
713.467.4696 x. 144