s Outdoor Learning Environments for COVID and Beyond

Breaking Down the Walls – Outdoor Learning Environments for COVID and Beyond

Research has shown the benefits of nature to human well-being and learning but this knowledge rarely translates into the regular use of outdoor learning environments. While current events have forced schools to look at this missed opportunity, this session will assist schools with how best to create these environments. Explore the process developed between the Los Angeles County Office of Education, HMC Architects, and the Design Team to guide districts and schools on how to engage, encourage, and empower all the stakeholders associated with creating successful outdoor learning environments. Participants will be empowered with a process they can employ to engage administrators, teachers, students, M&O, community members, and design professionals to design successful outdoor learning environments for a variety of uses and situations.



Learning Objectives

  1. Be equipped with how to team with and employ design professionals to develop site specific outdoor learning environments.
  2. Discover tools to cast vision to all stakeholders on how and why to establish outdoor learning environments.
  3. Be able to address concerns from stakeholders in utilizing outdoor learning environments.
  4. Compare learning components and their ability to meet the vision and needs of the program.

Broadcast Date

August 25, 2021, 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM (EST)

Purchase Price

Member: $0.00
Non-Member Price: $25.00

Meet the Presenters


Jema Estrella
Los Angeles County Office of Education
Director of Facilities and Construction

Jema is the Director of Facilities and Construction at the Los Angeles County Office of Education, an associate member of CASH, and past Chair of the CCFC. Her background is in Architecture and she has 24 years of experience in design, construction, and management of retail and educational facilities. Jema oversees 300+ school facilities for various programs. Her role includes leasing, design, construction, maintenance and operations, security, emergency preparedness and school compliance programs including facilities inspections according to the Williams Legislation.


Shaun Hawke
Los Angeles County Office of Education
Project Director III for the Outdoor & Marine Science Field Study

Shaun is Project Director III for the Outdoor & Marine Science Field Study at the Los Angeles County Office of Education. Shaun earned her bachelor’s degree and graduate certificate in education from UC Santa Cruz. She has a master’s degree in Educational Administration with her thesis work on science phenomena in context. She has worked for the L.A. County Outdoor Science School since 1992 and for other outdoor science programs, including National Audubon.


Virginia Marquardt
HMC Architects

As a principal in charge in HMC’s LA office, Virginia serves the firm’s PreK–12 clients by working with school districts, strategic partners, and internal teams to ensure operations and business development success. She has 20+ years of experience in PreK-12 architecture creating optimal learning environments of all sizes and complexities. Virginia enjoys partnering with school administers, teachers, parents, the community, and especially students to re-imagine learning environments that prepare kids for life after graduation.


Jonathan Richert
HMC Architects
Project Designer

As a civic and educational project designer, working with HMC Architects since 2013, Jonathan works with school districts and stakeholders helping them craft their project vision and turn it into reality. Focusing on the student experience, Jonathan loves to create safe, engaging environments that inspire imagination and give students the setting to learn about the world around them.