Nature Playground


In March 2020, the Fort Collins Nature in the City program awarded $24,500 to fund a nature playground at O’Dea Elementary. This progressive project addressed the need to rethink outdoor spaces and include more natural components. The project added a band of natural area along the north side of the playground, that included trees for shade as well as native shrubs and grasses. Boulders are situated throughout allowing areas for playing, sitting, and contemplation. This natural area also serves as a buffer to the traffic on Tulane Road, which directly borders this area.

As the trees and plants grow, we are looking forward to the long-term outcomes of this project. First, the native species areas will enhance the educational opportunities for our students, as this aligns with specific science and other curricular components. Also, the new nature area increases the comfort and usage of the playground providing shade, year-round beauty, and outdoor study areas. Lastly, research has shown that children who interact with natural environments benefit from reduced stress and illness, increased creativity, increased language and collaborative skills, improved cognitive development, and a greater appreciation of nature. We are so grateful to have this opportunity for our children, staff, and the greater school community.

A big thank you to all who made this project possible for future generations. In addition to the Nature in the City grant, O’Dea also received funding from Walmart Community Grants and the O’Dea PTA.  


As we look to the future, we have several additional projects we’d like to complete in 2021.


We are proposing to transform a small area in the front of the school into a native plant sensory garden for the children. This area, roughly 11’ x 30’, will transform from being a water-intensive summer vegetable garden to a high interest year-round xeriscape garden. The area will boast a diversity of native plants that attract insects, birds, and small mammal species.


We would like to purchase tables and a shade structure so that our school can access the outdoor space year round. Our hope is to add more seating outside for students to be able to work, eat lunch, sit, and talk together. Potentially, the shade structure will provide protection from the elements to be outside year round.


Lastly, we would like to add a rock pathway that winds you through the nature area. Also, we are proposing to plant additional native grasses, shrubs, and perennials to continue to fill in the space.

For more information or to get involved in these nature projects, you can reach out to the O’Dea Garden Club or please contact Megan Haynes at

"The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit." - Nelson Henderson

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