Staff and Teaching Philosophy

Emily Bishton, director and lead educator

Emily has been teaching children and adults about gardening and nature throughout the Puget Sound region since 1995.  She thoroughly enjoys being in the garden, classroom, and natural areas of the park, whether it’s an event filled with tots, seniors, or anyone in between!

Her education methods are based on 3 main principals:

  • Providing a welcoming, caring, and open atmosphere for learning, where each child is encouraged to actively participate in the curriculum;
  • Inspiring and appreciating curiosity, with curriculum that builds from, and expands, each child’s natural curiosity and creative thinking;
  • Providing multiple avenues for experiential learning and reflecting, so that visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners can all enjoy success.


IMG_1483In addition to co-founding Magnuson Nature Programs and nurturing its growth for the past 12 years, Emily teaches children’s garden and nature classes for the 70th & Sand Point and Radford Court Child Care Centers.  She also teaches sustainable gardening workshops for municipalities, colleges, garden clubs, and garden centers throughout the Puget Sound region, as well as national gardening organizations.  As a longtime landscape designer, she has specialized in child-friendly, wildlife-friendly, and edible landscapes.  Though most of her work has been in private gardens, her school landscape designs include two that you may be familiar with: the Sand Point Child Development Center and the Sand Point Elementary Native Plant Garden.  She also designed Magnuson Community Center’s two demonstration gardens – the Bird-friendly Landscape and Resource Conservation Landscape- and has helped design and steward the Magnuson Children’s Garden for the past 12 years.   You can take a stroll through any of these 3 gardens whenever Magnuson Park is open!


IMG_6583Nicole Caudana, environmental educator

Nicole is a California native with a deep love for environmental education. She recently moved to Washington after completing her degree in Environmental Education and Interpretation with an emphasis in marine sciences, from Humboldt State University. Her passion lies in creating a positive attitude towards the natural world, targeting each learning style, and inspiring a strong sense of stewardship in all audiences she engages with. Her primary goal is for both children and adults to come away with a greater understanding of their environment, which will lead to increased respect and love for nature.  Nicole loves exploring all the natural landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, and is greatly enjoying all the new adventures she is having with Magnuson Nature Programs!

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Heather Lecrone, environmental educator Heather is a Seattle native who loves teaching kids about nature and growing fresh organic food, as well as exploring Magnuson Park and taking biking trips around the Pacific Northwest!


Magnuson Nature Docents

We are honored to have a very dedicated group of volunteers assisting with our camps, classes, field trips, nature walks, and special events.  Magnuson Nature Docents come from many walks of life, and give generously of their talent and experience in science education, wetlands biology, birding, organic gardening, composting, art, photography, web and graphic design, cooking, classroom organization, and other skills.  Their assistance with all aspects of Magnuson Nature Programs provides a priceless benefit to staff and to all programs attendees, and is a major factor in our overall success!

Teaching Assistants from local colleges and high schools:

Students from the University of Washington, Shoreline Community College, Seattle Central Community College, or local high schools may also be assisting at a camp, class, field trip, nature walk, or special event that you or your child attend.  We welcome these students, and provide them with training and mentoring as they gain knowledge and experience in our programs!


Alexei with kids2Thanks also to educators Alexei Desmarais and Kate Schmiett for their work during Spring 2016 to enhance and co-teach our field trip program for schoolchildren throughout the Puget Sound area!






Recent summer camp assistants

In 2013 and 2014, Claire Rostov (on left) took the Magnuson Nature Programs summer assistant position to new heights.  Kids at this year’s programs still fondly ask “where’s Claire?”, and it’s no wonder!

Chana Cooper (on right) volunteered over 75 hours during 2014, working side-by-side with Emily and Claire at several camps.  We were delighted that the following year, she returned as our 2015 summer camp assistant!


Thank you for trusting us with your biggest treasure: your children!

You can rest assured that every Magnuson Nature Programs staff member, Magnuson Nature Docent, teaching assistant, and other volunteer working with children in our camps, classes, field trips, or nature walks has completed a Seattle Dept. of Parks & Recreation registration and passed a Washington State Patrol Background Check.