Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose recently opened a half-acre outdoor play space designed to inspire a love of the natural world. Bill’s Backyard: Bridge to Nature doubles the exhibit space of the Museum, providing a bridge to nature for our community’s children and families. Named in honor of retired Agilent Technologies CEO Bill Sullivan, Bill’s Backyard introduces children to the wonders of the nature, cultivating connections with the flora and fauna of our region, and providing endless opportunities for kids to dig, plant, climb, build, and explore the world they live in.


Bill’s Backyard makes it possible for today’s children to become tomorrow’s visionaries through exploration of the natural world. Bill’s Backyard introduces children and families to the wonders of nature and propels them on an adventure of discovery, exploration, and science inquiry.

Contributions from people like you make it possible to inspire children about their futures:

  • Today’s tree climber is tomorrow’s risk taker
  • Today’s dirt digger is tomorrow’s healthy soils leader
  • Today’s stepping stone hopper is tomorrow’s bridge builder
  • Today’s fort builder is tomorrow’s green builder
  • Today’s insect lover is tomorrow’s environmental steward
  • Today’s plant waterer is tomorrow’s drought management expert
  • Today’s composter is tomorrow’s environmental engineer
  • Today’s rock sculptor is tomorrow’s artist-in-residence
  • Today’s tomato harvester is tomorrow’s innovative farmer
  • Today’s nature explorer is tomorrow’s John Muir



We invite you to invest in this outdoor learning environment for our community’s children. More than 250 families have already become Stakeholders, and we hope you will join us!

Receive lasting recognition on our beautiful Sculptural Fence, comprised of hundreds of corten steel stakes set in a natural wave pattern that surrounds Bill’s Backyard.


Your gift of $250 will be recognized with an inscription on one of the corten steel stakes. Whether it’s your own name, or an inscription recognizing your child or grandchild, honoring a friend, or remembering a loved one, your gift will be a lasting tribute to someone who loves children and nature.


Your gift in multiples of $250 ($500 for 2 inscribed stakes, $750 for 3, $1,000 for 4, etc.) will receive added recognition. Got two kids? Get a stake for each of them by contributing $500. Want one for yourself, too? Contribute $750 and get recognition on three stakes.

Your Stake in the Ground

Our Thanks to You



The Sculptural Fence is long and we still have many stakes available for inscription, but why delay? When you visit, you and your loved ones will be able to point with pride at the Sculptural Fence, knowing you have invested in a one-of-a-kind community treasure. Put your Stake in the Ground, and inspire a love of nature in our community’s children for years to come.

Interested in a bigger impact? Become a Major Sponsor and receive recognition in the vicinity of one of the many great features in Bill’s Backyard! There are still features available, so claim yours today.





Outdoor Pavilion$75,000Gift from Jane and Joseph Nettemeyer
Rain Harvest Cistern$50,000Gift from Agilent Technologies Foundation
Thrive Garden$50,000Gift from Kaiser Permanente
Junior Ranger Station$50,000Sponsorship Pending
Bronze Animals$40,000Gift from Janet and Vincent Martin
Look Out Tower and Tunnel$35,000Gift from Sharks Foundation
Native Plant Demonstration Garden$25,000Available
Bird Observation Station$20,000Available
Butterfly Garden$20,000Gift from Patricia and Ronald Eastman
Vine Tunnel$15,000Gift from eBay
Tree of 40 Fruit$15,000Gifts from City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs and the Institute of Museum and Library Services
Valley Oak Trees$15,000Gift from Thomas and Ann Livermore
More Available
Blue Oak Trees$10,000Gifts from Jessica and Matthew Denecour, Adobe Foundation in honor of Mark Garrett
More Available
Big Leaf Maple Trees$7,500Gifts from Jenni Martin and Andrea Mackenzie, Kathryn and Jason Watson, Air Systems Foundation, Jennifer and Chris Szeto, The Pond Family
Succulent Demonstration Walls$5,000Gifts from Marilee and William Jennings, Coupa Software, Marisa and Sean Rudford
More Available
Visitor Benches$5,000Gifts from Daniel and Priscilla Amend, Rajan and Amita Bhandari, Cynthia and Andrew Bullock, Ashley Dragoman and Theodore Kremenek, AGC-Santa Clara District, J. Michael Patterson and Sandra Radtka, Caitlin and Trevor Vonnegut
Large Boulders$2,500Gifts from Andrew and Cheryl Blumenthal, Ashley Dragoman and Theodore Kremenek
More Available
Medium Boulders$1,500Gifts from Alan Marks, Kevan and Cynthia Krysler, Lloyd and Jacquie Thyen, Rebecca and Erik Turner, Indu Prakas Kodukula and Veena Avula, Larry Lundberg, Justin and Danielle Funamura, Viorica and Cristian Filimon, El Camino Women's Medical Group
More Available


Bill’s Backyard would not be possible without major infrastructure underwriting from Agilent Technologies Foundation, City of San Jose, California Coastal Conservancy, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, County of Santa Clara, Sunlight Giving, Superbowl 50 Legacy Fund, Santa Clara Valley Water District, and FIRST 5 Santa Clara County.



“Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.”
Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods

Bill’s Backyard invests in the next generation, inspiring environmental stewardship, sparking interest in STEM and the arts, and increasing understanding of sustainability solutions for our region. The impact on children will be unique to each one. We can imagine sparking young imaginations to

  • Identify climate change solutions
  • Create energy efficient housing and job centers
  • Combine new technologies for sustainable agriculture
  • Solve challenges in a host of new ways

Dig Pit

Garden and Outdoor Pavilion

By sparking curiosity about the natural world, Children’s Discovery Museum’s outdoor learning environment aspires to be a place where enjoyable outdoor experiences generate a love of nature, prompting families to go out and explore California’s breathtaking parklands, historic trails, lakes and rivers, forests, and wilderness areas. We can imagine Bill’s Backyard will motivate children and their families to

  • Help friends and neighbors to find the beauty in nature
  • Protect natural habitats for plants and animals
  • Invite others to reduce, reuse and recycle
  • Champion creative solutions to protect water
  • Convince decision makers that rescuing nature protects us all



Research shows that access to nature is basic to healthy human development, including brain and body development, nutrition and prevention of disease, and general well-being. San Jose’s outdoor learning environment at Children’s Discovery Museum makes it possible for today’s children to become tomorrow’s visionaries through exploration of the natural world. Bill’s Backyard introduces children and families to the wonders of nature and propels them on an inquiry-based adventure of discovery and exploration.


Bill’s Backyard provides an entry point to a deeper bond with nature, inviting children to cultivate connections with the earth through outdoor playtime amidst the trees, plants, rocks, waterways, and wildlife. Features in our outdoor learning environment include:

  1. Tree Climber: Three tall trees connected with sky bridges engage children in climbing, dreaming and seeing the world from a new perspective.
  2. Look Out Tower and Tunnel: A tower on a hill, a tunnel below, and pretend animal homes encourage children to jump, roll and scurry like the animals whose habitats they are exploring.
  3. Jr. Ranger Station: Maps, signs, fossils and touchable animal skeletons orient visitors to the natural features and creatures they will encounter during their visit.
  4. Fort Building: Reeds, grasses, willow branches and flowers encourage children to design, build and create with natural materials.
  5. Dig Pit: A giant pit filled with smooth stones provides busy youngsters with hours of time shoveling, digging, scooping, and relocating gravel, rocks, sand, and dirt.

Tree Climber

Look Out Tower and Tunnel


  1. Dry Creek: A dry creek bed where large, smooth rocks can be stacked, carried and re-arranged creates fun and empowering experiences for children of all ages. Underground collection basins will make this area a water play experience during the rainy season.
  2. Garden: Raised beds where children prepare soil, plant seeds, water and see plants growing help them to understand where their food comes from.
  3. Tree of 40 Fruit: Grafted with 40 different local stone fruit varieties by Artist Sam Van Aken and highlighting scientific and artistic creativity, this innovative tree also provides a storytelling area and shade structure.
  4. Outdoor Pavilion: Complete with solar roof, this outdoor classroom is a versatile and shaded space for facilitated activities and nature investigations.