Outdoor Classroom

The Environmental Laboratory for Sustainability and Ecological Education is a design prototype of an idealized schoolyard. ELSEE is a teaching laboratory and outdoor classroom for elementary, high school, college students, their teachers and all members of the local and regional community. Each week we conduct classes and teach students from St. Leo the Great Catholic School — ELSEE’s next-door neighbor — the art and science of native plants and land stewardship.

Students in the outdoor classroom

Lesson Plans

The ELSEE project represents the culmination of eight years of site development and work in the local community. Currently, the site is San Jose’s only native plant nursery, and has raised vegetable beds, native gardens, a pond, a constructed wetland, and a compost facility.

When we first visited the property, it was paved with broken concrete and used as a bus parking lot. We developed the land so that visitors could visualize how a parcel of land in the heart of the city can be transformed to sustain nature, produce food, and restore local ecology. The property is now a thriving community education site.

ELSEE is sponsored by the California Native Garden Foundation (CNGF).

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