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Japanese Garden Docent

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  • A group opportunity. Invite your friends.
  • 3 people are interested

Field trip teaching assistants.We begin booking in February for the 2020 season. Typically, our groups are 2nd grade - 6th grade school, extended day or scout groups. They'll get an introduction to Japanese gardens and how they compare with other perennial gardens. They'll tour our garden using a discovery tour based on the coloring book Garden of Many Parts--a new Normandale Japanese Garden Committee publication. And they will take home tiny Japanese gardens that they plant themselves. During mid-summer, we'll probably have a group from the college STEM camp for middle school girls. Field trips are reserved in advance, we require $8 per student and we encourage their teachers and parents to purchase the coloring books to reinforce what they learn. They are available for a $10 donation (less if purchased in bulk). Teaching assistants need to arrive thirty minutes ahead of the scheduled time to help me with set up and they will remain for thirty minutes afterward to help me with clean up. Before the first time you help me, we need to arrange for a training so that you are thoroughly familiar with the lesson and how you can assist the teachers and me to help the children. Summer programs "Show & Tell Sundays" series--Val Wagner began this in 2016 to celebrate the Garden's 40th year. It is a series that highlights the garden's elements. Val did monthly programs, starting with a program about our Cherry Trees on Sunday, April 17, 2016. She had uncanny luck in that the trees burst into blossom on April 17 that year! Other topics were the Koi, the Bentendo, shelters and lanterns; the waterfall, bridges and islands; and artfully pruned trees and shrubs. When we did not repeat the series in 2017, we got several inquiries and comments urging us to do it again. Last year, a couple of Committee members shared the Sundays. If you are knowledgeable about the garden and want to lead a program or two, let me know. If your Sundays are not available, a Saturday morning series might be appreciated. Talk to me about your idea, please! (Currently, no Sunday opportunities are scheduled.) My husband Steve and I are repeating the Saturday Round Shelter programs: "Imagine Japan!" for families. This is similar to, but shorter and cheaper than the field trip program because we don't include the wet gardens. I have selected five dates. We don't require reservations and we offer the program at no charge. (As we do with tour groups, we promote donations and offer the two types of books available at the suggested donation rate of $15-history or $10--coloring per book.) If you want to help us, I encourage you to do so. Sharing the garden with children in this way is the most fun I have had as a garden volunteer (and I have been there for some of the koi releases!) If you're interested, you could even borrow the props and zen gardens from me and offer the program a Saturday or two during July while I am away!

COVID-19 restrictions: Normandale Community College will continue conducting nearly all teaching, learning, and campus services and operations online. Campus buildings will remain closed to the public until a date not yet known. As long as that is the case and in keeping with the State of Minnesota guidelines on social distancing, committee meetings are held by ZOOM calls. Small group tours, training, or meetings of ten persons or fewer may be conducted outside at the garden in favorable weather; otherwise, in-person meetings will not resume until restrictions at the college are lifted.
In 2020 tours were restricted to 25 persons or fewer. Family programs and field trips were canceled. We will reevaluate restrictions on our public programs in May 2021.

4 More opportunities with NORMANDALE COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOUNDATION--Japanese Garden



The Japanese Garden, 9700 France Ave S., Bloomington, MN 55431, US

Mission Statement

Vision Statement: The Normandale Japanese Garden (Nihon Teien) is an authentic traditional Japanese Garden in North America that provides a special experience to each and every visitor; a Garden open year round to the community; a place where the unique skills and techniques that are necessary to create a Japanese garden are observed, cherished, learned; where specialized interpretation of cultural traditions and elements of the Nihon Teien ensure the continuance for many generations in the future.


Bloomington Affiliated Garden Clubs used a $500 Sears grant in 1967 to start Normandale Japanese Garden. Our web pages give a photographic history, including Takao Watanabe's plans. http://www.normandale.edu/community/japanese-garden/history
Japanese Garden Committee
The Normandale Japanese Garden Committee is a 10-20 person advisory committee. The Committee was founded in 1980. The Committee's mission is to promote and raise funds for the perpetual care and improvement of the garden. In cooperation with the Normandale College Foundation and with Normandale College Staff, the Committee is charged to see that all construction and maintenance shall adhere to the original design concept of Takao Watanabe.
We meet monthly on the third Mondays. Committee members are expected to attend the regular meetings and to serve on one or more of the subcommittees which include tours/weddings, festival, public relations, buildings and grounds, membership, and website communications. We've begun a Master Planning process and need more Committee members. We welcome a background related to: gardening, landscape architecture, Japanese gardening or Japanese culture, fundraising, finance, publicity, horticulture, local government, land use planning, education, communication, wetland management, law or areas related to our mission.We also welcome volunteers if committing to monthly meetings isn't feasible: event hosts, tour guides (May to October), fall or spring teachers, and Festival volunteers!

Arts & Culture
Children & Youth


We'll work with your schedule.


Normandale Japanese Garden andKopp Student Center, NCC9700 France Ave SBloomington, MN 55431



  • Environmental Education
  • Gardening
  • Horticulture
  • Japanese
  • People Skills


  • Teens
  • People 55+
  • Group


  • Background Check
  • Must be at least 17
  • Orientation or Training
  • Classes plus prep and clean-up take 2-3 hours. You can help with one a year or develop some classes of your own after working with Committee members.
  • One of the teaching locations requires using stone steps. However, most of the garden is handicap accessible. Knowledge of Japanese culture is a plus, but the ability to be heard and understood in English is essential. Comfort with ages 7-11.

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