Learning Opportunities of a School Nature Area

A school nature area provides a real-life, hands-on context for learning. Since it constantly changes, learning is never static. Anticipation becomes a big part of observation. The frogs are singing, have they laid eggs yet? There was a bud on the water lily yesterday, is it open yet?  
Communicating discoveries creates social interaction across age groups and education levels. The excitement propagates. Within two days, everyone from kindergarten to the janitorial staff knows there are tadpole shrimp in the temporary pond or the water lily is blooming or little frogs are emerging. Children take their parents out after school to show them exciting things they have found. Parents waiting to pick up their kids take preschool siblings out there. The principal takes visiting principals on a tour and a parent who teaches at the university brings a teachers' workshop for a field trip.

The area provides communication possibilities that are just beginning to be realized. As more schools connect to the internet, kids can share observations. "How much later did the chorus frogs emerge at an elevation of 4000 feet than at 200 feet?" "Have the white-crowned sparrows migrated that far south (or north) yet?"
The possession of a nature area teaches respect for life. The area and its life belongs to the kids and they take care of it; there are social sanctions against careless behavior. The whole student body knew who broke the web of the garden spider before most teachers even knew it had been broken.