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In late 2014, we reported that the Arboretum Foundation had secured $25,000 in funding from an anonymous donor to help construct a new shelter in the Arboretum for the Fiddleheads Forest School. The UW Botanic Gardens, which runs the outdoor nature preschool, had already identified $80,000 in funds for the structure; the money we secured helped to move the project forward.

The completed shelter, pictured in December 2016.

Bob Hoshide of Hoshide Wanzer Williams designed the shelter in 2015, and construction took place in the summer and fall of 2016. The large, sleek, wooden structure is complete, and the Fiddleheads kids and teachers now have a shelter and gathering place worthy of this amazing educational program. (Until recently, shelter from inclement weather in the Forest School classroom was provided by couple of rudimentary tarps suspended from surrounding trees.)

Fiddleheads students, parents, and teachers at the winter solstice celebration on December 16. (Photo by Per Satterberg)

“We love having it,” says Fiddleheads Director Kit Harrington. “Not only is it a great amenity for the students, it also provides us with a perfect setting in which to develop our community and build connection with parents. In November we hosted a thankfulness-themed story time in the shelter, and in December it acted as a gathering space for our annual winter solstice celebration. Each month we discover a new way to enjoy and make use of the cover it provides.”

Enrollment for fall 2017–18 is now open! (The application deadline is February 17.) The school is also hiring a new assistant teacher to start ASAP.