Nature-Based Schools Interest Group Forming
May 28, 2015
If you operate a nature-based school (preschool or elementary school) and have wished for a way to get more involved with Natural Start, or to use Natural Start to help further your goals, we have good news for you.
Earlier this month, Natural Start hosted a small meeting at the National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia to think about how Natural Start can best support the nature-based early childhood education movement. The meeting included leaders from nature-based preschools, universities, regional groups, and others.
Many of our members operate nature-based schools, which we define as schools that put nature at the core of the program, embrace high-quality standards in early childhood education and environmental education, and use the natural world to support child development and the development of environmental literacy (click here for more on this definition). We’ve heard from these members that they are passionate about what they do, want to help spread the model to other schools, and that they need more opportunities to work together to refine their programs and help spread the word.
Here’s the exciting news: this meeting in West Virginia confirmed the need for a special interest group within Natural Start to focus specifically on nature-based schools for young children. Anyone who operates, or is interested in, nature-based schools will be welcome to join. The group will meet by phone regularly (schedule to be determined) and also will also have the opportunity to connect in person at the Nature-Based Preschool National Conference.
Specific projects and opportunities to take on leadership roles will evolve as the group gathers momentum. During our meeting, we identified goals and potential projects around research, promoting best practices, professional development, communications, advocacy, building diversity and inclusion in the field, and generating more financial support for the field.
Rachel Larimore of the Chippewa Nature Center and Marcie Oltman of the Tamarack Nature Center have volunteered to chair the group to get it started. More details will be worked out, but we’re excited to announce that this in the works. So stay tuned for more on this new opportunity to focus on the professional needs of the nature-based education community.