Summer in the Parks program: bringing environmental education to low-income communities

Summer in the Parks is a seven-week drop-in program developed and run by Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Environmental Sustainability Education and Engagement (ESEE) unit. Working with our Out of School Time Office, ESEE staff provided free, weekly environmental education programming for participants in our Summer Food Service and Extended Recreation program at Othello Playground, Roxhill Park, Highland Park Playground, and Powell Barnett Park.

This year, Summer in the Parks participants explored their park through the lens of weekly themes during 1.5-hour programs. Participants discovered how our urban natural spaces provide habitats to birds, insects, spiders, and mammals; learned about the structure and function of plants and pollinators, and observed how light affects shadows and colors. Learning about the science behind making gigantic bubbles, as well as storybook readings, were other popular activities.


The program, which ran from July-August, served 665 youth, and provided low-income communities access to free environmental education programs that fostered excitement and interest in sustainability in our future leaders.

Summer in the Parks program sites are determined by utilizing free and reduced lunch percentages (Seattle Public Schools, 2017) and low-income percentages (Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction) from nearby elementary schools. This helps ensure that under-served communities access environmental education that they otherwise may not be exposed to.

To learn more about our environmental education and outdoor learning programs, click here.