Leon inside his favorite living willow hut.
Leon Smith was born and raised in the interior of Alaska, playing under spruce boughs and digging in snow banks! He worked as a childcare provider and preschool teacher in several different settings, most notably the Giddens School (formerly called Happy Medium) in Seattle WA. Through his work with children, Leon observed the power of a rich environment to stimulate creativity and support healthy development.
Leon received a Bachelor of Arts from the Evergreen State College, focusing on Ecological Design. During his college years, he worked as the coordinator of the non-profit Energy Outreach Center, a community information center for green building and renewable energy. His major student project was the design and construction of a new natural playground at the Evergreen College Children’s Center. Trough this work, Leon developed his passion for connecting kids with nature through play!
Since 2004, Leon has worked with Rusty Keeler at Planet Earth Playscapes, designing custom natural play environments for preschools, childcare centers, and communities around the country. He has lead trainings, hands-on workshops, and keynote presentations focusing on how to improve play areas for kids by inviting nature in.
Through the years, Leon has also served as a volunteer board member and president of the Community Built Association, a national non-profit supporting community involvement in public projects, and a member of the Leadership Committee of the International School Grounds Alliance. He is also involved in the American Adventure Play Association as well as the Oregon Natural Play Initiative. Leon spends most of his free time practicing and playing Capoeira Angola, the Afro-Brazilian Martial Art-Dance.