K-12 Program

Welcome to the Theodore Payne Foundation K-12 program page!

Theodore Payne Foundation is currently working to create and disseminate California native plant curriculum meaningfully at scale in a way that roots children and communities into place and supports cultural connections through dynamic learning.

The pillars of this curriculum include:

  • The importance of CA native plants and their ecological connections
  • Dissolving “plant invisibility”- a term to describe when the natural world around us is seen as a monolithic form of wallpaper and experienced without relationship or deeper knowledge
  • Designing and establishing school gardens
  • Maintenance and care practices unique to the seasonality and diverse needs of CA native plants
  • Supporting socio-emotional development through meaningful relationships to the outdoors, understanding of place and ecological systems, and connecting the resilience of native plants to the resilience of self
  • Standards-based content connections across all subject areas (ELA, math, social studies, science, and art)
  • Cultivating environmental stewardship and opening up a range of future career pathways connected to CA native plants.

Please stay tuned as we share more about our projects and future programming.


Ways to Get Involved

We want to hear from you! Teacher Survey for Educators is aproject in collaboration with the California Native Plant Society, California Botanic Garden, and Santa Barbara Botanic Garden to inform a curriculum resource guide.

Parents, Teachers, and Volunteers
Receive news updates and be informed when new offerings and opportunities are announced.

Receive information about training and volunteer opportunities.

Schools on the Native Plant Garden Tour

Our annual Native Plant Garden Tour is the Foundation’s largest outreach event of the year, over 2,500 tickets were distributed in 2022. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate the beauty and importance of CA native plants in our private and public garden spaces, and more schools are being featured on the Tour, helping us imagine the possibilities for all children across the city.

If you are interested in submitting your school garden for next year’s Garden Tour, please email gardentour@theodorepayne.org

Washington Elementary STEM Magnet School

Design: Jesse Chang
Installation: Pasadena Audubon Society & community members
Care: Pasadena Audubon Society
visit website 

Garvey Intermediate School
2022 Native Plant Garden Tour

Design & Care: Jesse Chang (Catalyst San Gabriel Valley) Michael Naka (Garvey Intermediate School) community, and partners
visit website | watch video

Benjamin Franklin Elementary

Design: School parents and community members; NAC Architecture, Northeast Trees, Franklin Green Team
Care: The Green Team
visit website

New Horizon School Pasadena Peace Garden

Design: La Loma Development Company in partnership with Leigh Adams and school community members.
Installation: New Image Landscaping
Care: Levi Brewster
visit website

Education Highlight: Summer Educator Conference 2023 

This past June, Theodore Payne Foundation partnered with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Native Plant Society to put on Rooting Into Place: Teaching Native Plants In & Out of the Classroom. Centering the importance of California native plants and outdoor education for young people, over 200 educators gathered in the beautiful gardens of the Natural History Museum for workshop sessions, speakers and networking. From mural-making with Studio Tutto, Indigenous knowledge-sharing with Malki Museum, and a happy-hour concert with Sage Against the Machine, the power of native plants was loud and clear! Thank you to the all the teachers and partners who made this event happen! 


  1. Native Plant Flashcards: A wonderful tool to engage students of all ages in CA native plant learning. This bilingual deck supports all kinds of learners (i.e. visual, and kinesthetic) and can be used inside and outside of the classroom
  2. From Lawn to Garden Design: A helpful book to get started in creating a native plant garden in a personal or community space
  3. Planting Milkweed for Monarchs: An informative video to help you plant milkweed in the spring and summer season!
  4. Children’s Books: Check out the diverse array of children’s books available through the TPF store
  5. CNPS Native Garden Chats: Gardening with Kids – A panel presentation sharing ways to engage children with native plant gardens
  6. Courtesy of the California Native Plant Society for planning a native plant school garden :
    1. Native Plants for School & Urban Gardens A Survival Guide, by Betsey Landis (PDF)
    2. Southern California Native Plants for School and Urban Gardens, written and illustrated by Betsey Landis (in four PDF documents)