Garden Project Certifications


Our Newest Garden Enhancement

My name is Jacob Malone and I am a Life Scout from Troop 730.

For my Eagle Scout Project, I constructed a vegetable washing station for the Sycamore Canyon School Garden. This station has three sinks, with faucets and plumbing, and ample counter space for sorting and drying fruits and vegetables. Students will now be able to follow the complete farm to table process.

I am excited to see the new opportunities that this station opens up for outdoor education at Sycamore Canyon.  

Jacob Malone is a Sycamore Canyon School alumnus. His Eagle Scout Project was completed amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and it is a heartwarming bright spot for our Garden and the school community at large. Congratulations Jacob on a job well done!

Natives for your garden?

We have been planting California native plants in our school Garden since 2012. These native plants are not only beautiful, they are naturally drought tolerant, help support local ecosystems and provide habitat for birds, butterflies and pollinators. Planting California natives is also a sustainable landscaping approach.

Here is a planting guide of California Native Plants for Ventura County.

All plants in these guides and profiles are native to Southern California and are available at these nurseries.

2020 Valentine’s Student Concert Ends on Beautiful Notes

Blessed with great weather and enthusiastic audiences, our young performers showcased their musical talents at our 2nd annual music concert in the Garden.

Love, music, flower, and free popcorn – this event brought unbeatable charm to our Garden for the students to enjoy a memorable Valentine lunch recess at school.  Thank you to Mr. Palomino and all of our wonderful, fabulous parent volunteers for making this event possible!

Event Photographer: Carolyn Malouf.   Event Decoration Design:  Imelda Bailey

Valentine 2020

4th Grade Adopt the Garden – Last class for January 2020

By: Saifon (Jeep) Wells, Adopt the Garden Lead – 4th & 5th Grade

Our 4th Grade Adopt A Garden ended with Mrs. Abraham’s class on Monday the 27th.  The weather was perfect.

9:30 AM: Parent volunteer Kathryn Rocha arrived to continue with the design for the bases of the Recycled Bottel Caps art sculptures.  Kathryn’s creativity and energy were amazing,  She laid out the groundwork for students to follow, making the process efficient and appropriate for the limited 30 minutes Adopt the Garden session.  Our second volunteer, parent Leanne Norman, arrived shortly after with her usual beautiful smile as we reviewed the plans for the session.

10:00 AM: Mrs. Abraham’s class arrived.  After a brief review of a few safety rules, the kids went to work.  I thought most of the kids would love to work on making the bases for the art sculptures, but much to my surprise when I asked for volunteers to work on weeding, raking and picking up excess leaves 🍁, a handful of students very enthusiastically volunteered to help me with those tasks.

10:30 AM:  The session was so much fun and filled with positivity.  The results were amazing. The garden was clean, organized and ready for February activities.  👏


4th Grade Adopt the Garden mid-month Report!

By: Saifon (Jeep) Wells, Adopt the Garden Lead – 4th & 5th Grade

I wanted to give an overview of the first two sessions for 4th Grade Adopt a Garden last week.

We started the month after a long holiday breaks with Mrs. Murray’s class on Friday, Screen Shot 2020-01-20 at 11.48.11 PMJanuary 17th in the morning.  Our two lovely parent volunteers: Leanne Norman and Anna Hilt, arrived the garden with such positive and ready to go energy!  Once the class arrived, we briefly went over our safety rules.  Mrs. Murray helped group the students into three different teams. The students demonstrated such great Coyote spirits against the cold weather and wet condition from the rain the night before.  They willingly followed our parent leads, with the first team covering the entrance to the middle of the garden and second-team covering the middle of the garden.  The two teams’ main focus was to rake and pick up the leaves and trash in their assigned area. The third team focused on weeding the new weeds that popped up around the shed, bridge and alongside the flower beds in the back of the garden.  20 minutes went by fast.  We ended the session with 7 bags filled with leaves and trashes, and of course, a lot of very happy faces that expressed how proud each of the kids is with their accomplishments in the garden that morning!

The same day, in the afternoon we welcomed Mrs. Bolcik’s class.  Alongside the students, we Screen Shot 2020-01-20 at 11.51.59 PMalso have three creative and hard-working parent volunteers taking on the role of garden leads. The afternoon class worked on laying out the creative touch to help highlight the Garden Art sculptures that our Girls Scout have done and placed throughout the Garden. It was amazing to see how excited the kids were to be able to use their imagination and creativity to beautify their school Garden.  Besides our creative art team, the second team of students focused around the stage to dust, wipe off excess dirt and leaves and re-arrange benches to get the Compass Performance Stage area ready for the Garden Sketch lunchtime enrichment program the following week. They also took on the big job of transporting the 7 large bags that filled with Screen Shot 2020-01-20 at 11.48.33 PMleaves from the morning session to the big trash bin.  I am so proud of this group that was led by parent volunteer Ms. Usher.  Her team was very enthusiastic and carry out the task with pride.

All the efforts that our parent volunteers, students, and teachers have put in from both sessions helped us wrap-up this week at the Garden with a very positive note and a sense of accomplishment!  Thank you, everyone!!

Max Li Completes Eagle Project With Mobile Signages & Art Installation

Max LiCongratulations to SCS alumni, 17-year-old Max Li of Boy Scout Troop 730 for completing his Eagle Project with the Garden!

Max and his team built FOUR MOBILE SIGNAGES for the Garden’s outdoor classrooms. Each signage is equipped with a magnetic whiteboard on top and a storage box at the bottom. The signs will be used by teachers as it makes teaching in the garden more max signageflexible and convenient.

To fund his project, Max applied for the Thousand Oaks City Enhancement Grant and was awarded $3,990. He also got a donation of $365 from Anthem. He spent a total of 123 hours in planning and preparing the funds for the project. Max and his recruited team of volunteers spent a total of 237.7 hours completing the project over a four-day span. The first two days were spent painting the redwood to match the garden while the last two days were spent in the garden constructing the signage.

The signage project cost $2,354.79 in total. The remainder of the grant money was used to fund a nine feet tall art instalation: “Take Only Memories, Leave Only Footprints” totem, commissioned by a local artist for $1935. 

These new signages will help elevate our outdoor learning experience to the next level for the students and the community we serve for years to come. We applaud Max for his accomplishment, making a meaningful contribution to the community, and achieving the highest scout honor of Eagle.

Max Eagle Collage

Framing the Garden for the Season

The month of December brought rain and a change of atmosphere, trading in the usually sunny weather with one of chill winds and dark skies.  The Garden is undergoing its own seasonal transformation, as plants and visiting wildlife morph and ready themselves for the coming of winter.

Coinciding with this change, Garden Sketch for the month of December focuses on learning the use of a viewfinder to frame and sketch the perspective image in observation.  A viewfinder is a simple frame device that allows students to isolate or “crop” a scene within a rectangular area and can be adjusted to find the most dramatic and engaging composition for our young budding artists.  It is a process of translating the 3-D world into 2-D sketches and gives its user a quick assessment with dozens of options to choose from.

As the students become aware of the changes around nature through their Garden space, learning the use of a viewfinder helps the students select, frame and sketch the perspective images they are observing.  It is a valuable skill – one that not only combines art with science but also encourages in-depth examinations for all things in plain sight.




Meet the Pack! Ambassador Puppies Bring New Understanding to Visual Impairment Awareness

This is Part II of our two parts Awareness Series in Vision Impairment. (Click here to see Part I of the Awareness Series in Vision Impairment: Obstacle Course Challenge)

puppySycamore Canyon students received a long-anticipated visit by some very special guests on Wednesday, November 13th.

Seven beautiful puppies (four Labrador Retrievers, two Golden Retrievers, and a German Shepherd) in training from Guide Dogs of America (GDA), under the supervision of their committed and diligent foster parents (puppy raising volunteers), arrived in the most adorable procession of legs and wagging tails.  Flanked them at all sides while they marched toward the Garden was a ginormous gaggle of uber thrilled school children who had a hard time containing their excitement of seeing doggies on the school campus.  Talk about a fan base!

Lead presenter Diana Janke educated our children about guide dogs and the important roles that these service animals play in providing security and independence to those who suffer from vision impairment.  The children were first guided through an exercise where they simulated various types of vision impairment using their hands.  The activities helped children gained insights into the conditions of various vision impairment and how those conditions may “look” like through their own eyes.  The etiquettes GDA puparound guide dogs were then discussed, followed by an introduction of what it takes to raise and train a guide dog from lovable puppies to invaluable service companions.  Usage of types of service equipment, such as a guide dog harness, was demonstrated with the actual equipment passed around for the children to touch and feel.

The presentation was thorough and serious, but some time was also saved in the end for lots of petting, cuddling, getting to know one another, and of course – photos.  The children used this opportunity to practice the good etiquettes they’ve learned earlier – asking for permission from the owner to approach the dog and approach the dog in a calm and gentle manner.  Those are good things for the children to know and put into use not just around a guide dog but any dogs in general.

This was a fantastic and positive way to introduce and educate our children toward awareness and understanding of those with special needs.  Our sincere thanks to Guide Dogs of America and their fabulous volunteers for this special presentation at our Garden.

The Garden Committee would also like to acknowledge SCS parent volunteers Maria Prescott, Judy Caples, and Eszter Zubovics for their assistance at the presentation.

guide dog 2019

A Visit to the Golden Land of Spices – Culture at the Garden: India

By: Subha Tholudur, Lalit Patil and the C@G India Team

You might not ever take the 20-hour flight from California to India, but Sycamore Canyon students had an opportunity to explore parts of Indian culture at Monday’s Culture at the Garden-India event.

The garden was ablaze with bright colors, beautiful decorations, and dress, as well as filled with the lively sounds of Bollywood music. The first stop was henna stamping. Then on to the performance area where some students literally were jumping with excitement as they learned steps from a traditional north Indian folk dance (dandiya) which is performed with decorated sticks. Others were more in awe of the beautiful handmade peacock and elephant pendants that they hand strung with glistening beads into keepsake necklaces. Yet, there was more to explore and it was hard to get to everything. Many students spent their time playing carrom board or marbles, looking at the display table (filled with books, jewelry, currency, a cricket bat and Indian Barbie and other dolls) or making a door decoration (toran) that heavily relies on symmetry and geometric patterns.  The highlight for many was going home with a nametag they decorated with their names written in Hindi, the most predominant language of over 20 officially recognized languages in India. And like every Culture at the Garden event, checking out the food sample was a must.  This time it was poori (a fried flatbread) served with a mango sauce (aamras) typically served in the western states of India.  The students even had a chance to roll the poori dough themselves.

What a marvelous day we had to share a 5000-year-old culture and helping to broaden minds and normalize differences!

This huge event would not have been possible without the help of our many volunteers.  As the saying goes “many hands make light work”, and their time, efforts and presence is greatly appreciated.  A huge debt of gratitude to all of you for your hours of prep work and for showing up in the heat to share a small portion of Indian culture with the students at Sycamore.


Subha, Lalit, and the C@G India team

Photos by: Emily Tutt

C@G India 2019