Education Nation

Education Nation

A solutions-focused conversation about the state of education in America

Grand Prairie Park Transformed Into Nature Center

City, school district collaborate on hands-on learning center with planting areas

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A major renovation has grown an outdoor classroom in a city park in Grand Prairie.

    The city worked with the Grand Prairie Independent School District to make the space accessible for nature enthusiasts of all ages.

    The Natural Science Education Center at Kirby Creek Park was made with every student in mind.

    "The series of raised beds that allow even somebody with a wheelchair has the accessibility to plant vegetables, harvest, and just have a good outdoor education," said Jim Cummings, the city's environmental services director.

    The center is tucked in between a high school and a residential area. It includes a pond, an herb garden and lots of space for its spring planting.

    About 15,000 students are expected to pass through this year, planting vegetables while sharpening their knowledge.

    "The Lockheeds, the Bell Helicopters of the world -- they're telling us that they need graduates coming out of high school that have a good basic high school science and math education," Cummings said.

    The park and the education center are also open to the public.

    Those who live nearby say it's a nice addition to their neighborhood.

    "It's beautiful, and yes, sometimes even I just walk and I walk through there or, if I jog, I'll just jog through there. It's really nice," Noel Balderas said.

    Corporate donations and grant money from the state funded roughly one-third of the $300,000 renovation cost.