2023 Conference Session List

Browse the list of online live, on-demand, and poster sessions for the 2023 Nature-Based Early Learning Conference. 

Sessions are subject to change. 

Live Sessions

Live online sessions took place the week of July 24-28. Recordings of live sessions are now all available on-demand. 


An Environmental Identity Development (EID) Framework for Nurturing Young Children’s Experiences Outdoors

Presenters: Carie Green, Ugochukwu Ezeakunne, Hailey Kristjanson, Habiba Rinky

This presentation will share "nature tours" from ongoing research to present a model of children's environmental identity development. Participants will discuss innovative methods and approaches to nurture children's growing relationship with the natural world.

Bringing the Deaf Community to Toddler Forest School

Presenters: Angela Cannon-Crothers

Cumming Nature Center has had a growing Forest School program over the past seven years. This past year our Toddler Forest School program, a parent-child facilitated model, opened a session for the deaf community and hearing impaired. Join in on a short presentation of what we have learned and what we have gained, with time for Q&A at the end.

Building Capacity for Nature-Based Early Learning: Presenting Two New Degree Programs

Presenters: Elizabeth Boileau, Victoria Carr

In this session, you will learn about two new degree programs in Nature-Based Early Learning (NBEL) offered by the University of Minnesota Duluth and the University of Cincinnati, as well as engage in discussion about what other post-secondary and informal adult training opportunities exist and how to continue building capacity.

Building Resilient Communities through Participatory Practices

Presenter: Dr. Rodano Elizabeth

In this session, we will dig deep into the concept of participation as a pedagogical practice, and how we can use participatory practices to create resilient communities through empowerment, inclusion, respect, and equity.

CASEL Framework at Play in Nature

Presenter: Justine Wilson

Children can learn about themselves and the world through nature play. CASEL’s five pillars of SEL are self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. We will connect the pillars with our observations of children co-creating a valuable resource.

Child Language in a Nature-Based Preschool: Does the Classroom Setting Make a Difference?

Presenters: Ekaterina Novikova, Annette Pic

This research presentation discusses child language use in a nature-based preschool with an outdoor natural classroom and an indoor classroom. We share how we measured child language use and the differences we found between the outdoor natural classroom and the indoor classroom.

Climate Education for All: Ensuring Equal Access to Climate Education Through Creative Partnerships

Presenter: Julie Travaglini

In this hands-on session, you will learn how Allegheny Land Trust is able to successfully educate thousands of young children a year about climate change issues via educational programs and creative partnerships.

Coming to Our Senses: Fun and Easy Ways to Use Gardens and Greenspaces to Enrich Sensory Integration

Presenters: Em Shipman, Amy Wagenfeld

Playing outdoors offers many opportunities for kids to nourish their sensory systems. Join occupational therapist Amy Wagenfeld and garden educator Em Shipman to learn how to design a garden to engage the body's sensory systems. Learn specific garden activities to help kids integrate their senses.

Creating Positive Inclusion Experiences for Neurodiverse Children and Their Families

Presenters: Laura Seger, Kelsey Navin

Challenging behaviors and big emotions are a natural part of childhood, but sometimes they indicate developmental differences. Learn how to observe and document neurodiversity indicators to ensure children get the resources they deserve. We'll also discuss ways to help destigmatize neurodiversity.

Does the Quality of Outdoors Matter on Teachers’ Usage: An Exploratory Study Examining the Relationship between Quality of Outdoor Learning Environments and Teacher’s Use of the Outdoors in Preschools in Turkey

Presenter: Firdevs Burcak

Join us for a presentation about a study examining the relationship between the quality of outdoor learning environments and teacher's use of the outdoors in preschools in Turkey. Discover the impact of high-quality outdoors on teachers' use and the differences between high and low-quality outdoors.

Exploring Nature Connectedness Among Icelandic Children of Preschool Age

Presenter: Meghan Orman

In this presentation, I will share updates from our exciting research in Iceland exploring young children’s nature connectedness and its relation to parent and teacher nature connectedness and the school environment.

Fairies: Finding the Magic in Nature

Presenter: Sean Shaffer

Fairies are the perfect gateway into nature and a springboard to learning, to literally looking through new eyes to see the everyday magic that surrounds us. All you need is already out there. All the kids need is permission to imagine and explore.

Farm Babies: A Culturally-Centered Nature Program Cultivating Community with Families

Presenters: Ashley Brailsford, Stephanie McFadden, Nathan Todd

Farm Babies is a culturally-centered six-week enrichment program for families with young children. This session will share the components of a Farm Babies session and the various strategies and tools to create the programming that make it unique compared to other garden education programs.

Gather Round the Campfire: Storytelling in the Forest

Presenter: Ashley Jefferson

How can storytelling in nature serve as a way to a deeper understanding of ourselves and each other? Learn the historical value of storytelling, nature’s influence in folktales, and how to use it to empower young children.

Note: This session was live only and a recording is not available. 

Gender Expression in Early Childhood Education

Presenter: Anne Ouwerkerk

This session will include a discussion about gender stereotypes and gender identity in early childhood education, and an overview of recent research, as well as tools and strategies to create a less divisive early learning environment.

Green Teacher

Presenters: Archana Panicker, Preeti Rawat

The Session titled "Green Teacher" will share what teacher educators need today. It will address the rapidly growing need for continuing education and professional development in the field of environmental education.

How Cities and Local Partners are Planning and Implementing Citywide Early Childhood Nature Connection Initiatives

Presenter: Vera Feeny

Hear from city representatives participating in Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN), a joint initiative of the National League of Cities and the Children & Nature Network, on how cities and local partners are working to expand nature access for young children (0-5) with an equity lens.

Inclusive Farming: Making Farm-Based Early Childhood Education Accessible for Diverse Learners and Diverse Communities

Presenter: Rina Zampieron

There is much to be gained from Farm-to-Early Childhood learning. Let’s explore ways to engage students with diverse abilities in farm curriculum and celebrate the diversity of our students and their families through food. We will view Farm-to-EC with a lens of inclusion and community-based curriculum.

Let's Go Outside: Endless Discoveries Across the First State

Presenters: Christine Skrobot, Katie Pollock

This session highlights diverse early childhood programs that used their unique backdrops to get kids outside playing, learning, and thriving. Learn about how we made outdoor learning a bit easier, a bit better, and a whole lot more impactful.

Let’s Move It! Teaching with Movement, Meaning, and Motivation

Presenter: Jaclyn Stallard, Joanne Alex

This session supports nature-based instruction through movement. Experience inclusive practices that use music and traditional knowledge to teach outside. Connections to the Nature-Based Preschool Professional Practice Guidebook will be shared.

Making Learning Visible in an Outdoor Environment

Presenter: Audrey Fergason

Outdoor education cannot remain just a privileged experience for those who can afford it. All children should have a chance to play and learn outside, and in order to accomplish this, teachers must be able to articulate, document, and demonstrate the vital learning that children do outdoors.

Math in the Outdoor Classroom in Winter

Presenter: April Zajko, M.Ed.

Ready to develop meaningful math learning opportunities using natural materials, storytelling, and simple math invitations outdoors all winter long? Learn practical examples of hands-on math explorations focused on number sense, measurement, geometry, and patterns that you can implement outdoors.

Nature-Based Early Childhood Program Assessment and Guidebook

Presenters: Jenny Hanlon, Anna Dutke, Heidi Faris, Sheila Williams Ridge, Megan Gessler

Learn about the new Nature-Based Early Childhood Program Assessment and Guidebook. This tool helps programs learn how to provide and improve their nature-based learning opportunities. We'll share how this tool can be used in any program that wants to incorporate nature into its practices.

Parent Engagement: Finding Balance Throughout a Pandemic

Presenter: Amy Warzybok

Quality nature-based preschools should build relationships between children, teachers, and families. In this, Amy will share practices that support parent engagement and how the pandemic impacted these. Participants will learn about our Parent Partner Volunteer Program and documentation practices.

Pushing the Boundaries for Change: Navigating the Licensing Journey

Presenters: Brooke Larm, Leigh Rowe

In this session, we will share our journey of creating a licensed nature-based preschool in a state that has limited policies in place to support such programming. We’ll identify the resources we gathered, the hurdles we faced, how we overcame them, and how we worked to maintain the integrity of nature-based learning along the way.

Ready or Not, Here We Come! Assessing Kindergarten Readiness in the Outdoor Classroom

Presenters: Jenny James, Lea Ann Christenson

Now more than ever, Pre-K teachers are feeling pressure to get their students ready for kindergarten. This session will show how balanced, outdoor nature-based education will support Pre-K standards, bring joy back to the classroom, and rejuvenate the tired and burned-out teacher.

Re-Imagining Play at Anderson Park: How Children Led the Way

Presenters: Jessica Yuill, Susan Bennett, Amanda Knight

What does it look like when children help create their own play spaces? In this session, learn how the City of Wheat Ridge and the National Wildlife Federation’s ECHO initiative partnered together to involve children in the creation of a nature play area at their local park.

Snuggling into a Cozy Community of Kindness

Presenters: Debra S, Kinman Ford

Discover practical ideas for developing hygge (coziness), kindness, and connection with young children and their families. It offers self-care ideas for your staff that are low cost/high yield. Divided into three sections, learn ways to weave SEL into the curriculum and how to create a community with families.

Teaching and Learning with Hydroponics in Early Childhood Bilingual Classrooms

Presenters: Louise Ammentorp, Natasha Agrawal, Niurka Corado, Sandra Estrada

Hydroponic gardens are a powerful learning tool that supports the whole child. Presenters will share their experience of teaching with hydroponics in their preschool and early elementary bilingual classrooms. We will share resources on the basics of hydroponics, lessons, and children’s book recommendations.

The Children's Forest Project: An American Forest School Leader's Call to Grow the Children's Forest Network "Across the Pond"

Presenters: Sally-Ann Stevens

Come and learn about a wonderful program "across the pond" called Children's Forest that is not only serving up much-needed nature time for children, but also guiding those children through a sacred process of tree-planting. Perhaps you will feel inspired to grow your own Children's Forest!

The Successes and Challenges in Licensing Outdoor Nature-Based Programs in Washington State

Presenters: Aliza Yair, Debbie Groff, Diana Stokes

Leading staff from the Licensing and Professional Development teams at the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families will provide updates and insights from licensing outdoor nature-based programs and preparing the early learning workforce, highlighting partnerships.

Treescape Advocacy: Children's Play as Advocacy for Access to Nature

Presenter: Ron Grady

Through the use of photo-essay and visual ethnography, this session will consider how children's play, within a treescape, constitutes an act of advocacy for their continued presence within and right to forested spaces.

Welcome to the World of the Weatherbies: Environmental Education through Friendship

Presenters: Yvonne Fleming (Creator & Author of the Weatherbies), Charlene McKeown (Eco-Schools NI), Peter Fleming

In this session, you will learn how the Weatherbies are used in preschool and primary school settings in Ireland to help teachers to introduce climate topics to young children. The Weatherbies creates content for preschoolers and beyond on the importance of climate awareness and how they can have a positive impact by changing their day-to-day behavior to help create a sustainable environment by using educational songs, animated videos, and storybooks. The goal of the series is to deliver environmental educational facts in a fun and entertaining way and offer resources to support learning and teaching in primary schools.

What Makes the Sun? Explaining Nature Through Pourquoi Stories

Presenter: Nicole Fravel

Learn how one preschool used an inquiry into pourquoi stories to explore nature, understand cultural traditions, seek commonalities in how humans explain their world, and tell their own stories. Participants will create their own stories and plan for a similar inquiry in their own settings.

What You Can Do About Childhood Trauma

Presenter: Brittany Murdock

Trauma is defined as "a deeply distressing or disturbing experience without proper resources to process the experience." Come learn how to identify which behaviors are likely "typical" and which behaviors may be manifestations of previous trauma or current abuse, as well as how you can help.

What’s the Word: Language Learning with Emergent Multilinguals Outdoors

Presenter: Anna Jennerjohn

In this session, we examine how nature-based learning supports writing and language growth, and how you can capitalize on these opportunities, especially for emergent multilingual children who are learning English. Come discuss evidence and strategies for moving literacy outdoors.


On-Demand Sessions

Access to on-demand sessions begins in July. Registrants will be notified when access begins. 

A Tale of Two Preschools: Comparing Growth in Children’s Relationships with the Environment Across Settings

Presenters: Jennifer Gauble, Jessica MacKeen, Audrey Campbell, Lauren Lowther

Researchers used interviews, games, and surveys in a year-long comparative study of connection to nature and empathy at two preschools: one with free play in natural settings, and one with a nature-focused outdoor play area. We'll share Instrument development, methods, results, and conclusions.

Action Research for Environmental Justice in the Kindergarten Classroom

Presenter: Kimi Waite

Teaching for environmental justice must go beyond school gardens, recycling, and green-themed assemblies. Learn about how kindergarteners can become researchers and take action for environmental justice, inspired by an article written by the presenter for "Rethinking Schools Magazine."

Cheers! It's Always the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Supporting Mental Wellness Through Joyful Seasonal Celebrations

Presenter: Carlie Davis

We'll touch on the research behind why we need celebrations and what they can do for our mental health. We'll gain some practical ideas for how we can celebrate solstices, equinoxes, cross-quarter days, and everyday moments, and we'll look at how to incorporate a Waldorf-inspired cyclical calendar.

Co-Creating Alliances for Systemic Change: Building A Statewide Nature-Based Early Childhood Network

Presenters: Anne Stires, Laura Newman, Patti Bailie, Anne Adams

Systemic change is afoot in Maine! We have been building networks between organizations, schools, childcare, and state agencies with nature-connected initiatives. Come learn about how one scaleable project grew and discover how this kind of change-making can be planted in your place.

Creating Meaningful Nature-Based Curriculum for Infants Through the Seasons

Presenter: Maeg Booska

With the (arguably) four seasons of northern New England as a framework, this session will guide participants in creating developmentally appropriate curriculum and expectations that immerse infants in nature, making learning about the natural world accessible to even the littlest among us!

Cultivate Joy: Nature-Based Mindfulness Activities for Children

Presenter: Victoria Hackett

Are your children coping with everything that is going on in the world? Are they stressed, isolated, and/or watching screens instead of going outdoors? If you said yes, this workshop is for you. Learn how 10 Nature-Based Mindfulness Activities can encourage self-care, renewed hope, and joy.

Cultivating a Center-Wide Ecocentric Worldview: Environmental and Social Justice in an Urban Nature-Oriented Preschool

Presenters: Victoria Carr, Leslie Kochanowski, Mary Beth Wright

Educator shifts toward an ecocentric worldview and nature pedagogy can occur if the journey is enabled by program leadership. We are sharing our journey with descriptions of transformative and reflexive sustainability-oriented pedagogies that underpin our focus on environmental and social justice.

Dangerous or Safe? Changing Caregiver Perspectives on Nature Play in the Sonoran Desert

Presenter: John Bello

Discover the impact of social media on changing parental perceptions of risky nature play. Through utilizing positive communication and infographics, this original research will provide you with actionable ways to create a mobilization effort to support children's well-being and connection to nature.

Developing a Pre-K Forest School Site at a Public School

Presenters: Angela Cannon-Crothers, Kass Stymus

This presentation reviews the development process of creating a forest school site at a public schoolyard thicket/lightly wooded area, and how it has been set up to provide opportunities and experiences for the school children.

Developing a Sense of Place Through the Mapping of Outdoor Experiences

Presenters: Terri Cardy, Pamela Hutchins

Understanding how our world works is the ability to use geographic understanding and reasoning to make decisions. This session will demonstrate the opportunities that educators have in supporting connections with a space through children’s interest in mapping.

Developing Emotional Resilience Through Risky Play

Presenter: Celia Hogan

In this session, Celia will discuss the connection between Risky Play and Emotional Resilience, identify strategies for strengthening emotional resilience through risky play, and help educators to understand their own risk profile, when to step in, and when to let them play.

Early Childhood Nature Play in New South Wales, Australia: Researching Where, Why, and How

Presenters: Sue Elliott, Dr. Fran Hughes, Dr. Jo Bird

We report a current research study into early childhood immersive nature play programs (INPPs) in New South Wales, Australia. Based on a state-wide, online survey and targeted educator focus groups, we offer preliminary findings and evidence-based recommendations advocating ways forward in INPPs.

ECE²: Environmental Conservation Education in Early Childhood Education—Thinking Outside the Box

Presenters: Soara DeLouvre, Keiko Shimozaki, Eric Wilson

Stories and time for reflection will enable participants to identify with children's inherent ecological intelligence and engagement in the natural world. Participants will leave with ways to help children understand how we are all connected with nature and how to protect it in a positive light.

Educating for Sustainability: Optimistic Early Learning Options

Presenter: Jade Berrill

Teaching about climate and sustainability doesn't need to be a balancing act of positive and negative. Whether you are a teacher, informal educator, parent, or leader, this workshop will connect you to tools and resources available to create optimistic, fun, early learning programming around this theme.

Empowering Youth and Appeasing Eco-Anxiety with Active and Constructivist Climate Change Pedagogies

Presenter: Jessica Khoury

By exploring the approaches, applicability, and interconnectedness of climate change pedagogies and the overreaching objectives of environmental education, you will learn to foster an empowering, meaningful, and impactful learning experience to empower youth and appease eco-anxiety.

Exploring Balance Through Indigenous Perspectives on Environmental Education

Presenters: Alyson McMullen, Alysse Kennedy

Natural Curiosity invites participants to reconsider their practice and relationship to the natural world through an Indigenous lens. Educators are empowered to transform early learning in ways that are more inclusive of diverse learners and perspectives, including Indigenous knowledge.

From Doing to Embedding Sustainability in Early Childhood Settings

Presenter: Bronwyn Cron

Discover our 5-step Framework for embedding sustainability in early childhood settings. Explore the benefits and opportunities embedding sustainability brings. Discover practical steps that take you towards a purposeful approach that's adaptable and reflects your place and people.

From Seed to Soil: Gardening and Composting with Children and Families

Presenters: Meg Gravil, Mary Sciaraffa, Erin Eliassen, Rachelanne Knoll, Cheryl Muncy

Explore how a cross-disciplinary team embarked on a food systems journey with young children and families at one childcare center! From breaking ground to salvaging scraps, follow the journey as we created a simple garden for children and implemented a system for composting.

Going Beyond Climbing Trees and Jumping from Boulders

Presenter: Joanna Spotts

Go beyond simply allowing for risky play to using conversation to build relationships with students, support safety, and learn through risky play opportunities.

Ground and Reflect

Presenter: Jenny Leibham

Being a guide we are pulled in many directions. It can leave us feeling less than, lost, or even unsure of how we want to show up. This session is designed to lead you back to yourself. Reflect on your current leading style to help guide you to how you want to show up in the classroom.

Growing Your Nature-Based Approach: Hiring, Training, and Coaching Employees with a Lens on Outdoor Learning

Presenter: Maeg Booska

Participants will explore the process of crafting job descriptions and questions that attract the right candidates, align the values of the program and the interviewee, explore methods to foster a love for outdoor learning and guiding new hires toward their growing edge in nature-based teaching.

How to Bring Your Whole Self into Your Teaching Practice

Presenter: Ashley Causey-Golden

The purpose of this session is to help teachers and administrators understand the importance of learning who they are on a fundamental level. It is through this knowledge educators can start using their strengths to create lessons that are centering the voices and work of the global majority.

How to Shift Perspectives on Outdoor Play and Learning

Presenters: Jason Theuman, Corinne Nowell

Zoo staff will share their experiences, observations, and strategies to mitigate behavior challenges at their outdoor nature play space. They will share three main areas of focus including behavior from children, adults, staff, and volunteers.

Inclusive Gathering Time Practices in Nature

Presenter: Madeline Cole

We analyze sensory experiences in outdoor classrooms, and particularly how they affect the morning circle routine. This session recommends specific inclusion tools and materials, ways to establish routine and expectation, and seating arrangement considerations through an inclusive lens.

Incorporating Nature-Based Learning in Urban Early Years Settings

Presenter: Clair Annabel Watson

Since the number of children living in cities is increasing, it’s essential we connect them with nature, but how? Several urban international settings are working hard to find solutions. The session will reflect on how these settings have been innovative in incorporating nature into their curriculum.

Interactive Nature-Based Storytelling

Presenters: Matt Flower, Alex LaBonte

Join the Urban Ecology Center’s early childhood team to see the interactive storytelling format they use to explore nature themes with children 1–3 years old. Using puppets, crafted resources, and colorful sheets, children join in dramatic play that promotes curiosity, exploration, and learning!

Interdisciplinary Learning Partnerships Between TK-2 Students and Scientists for Environmental Civic Learning

Presenters: Kimi Waite, Jennifer Burgin

Two former kindergarten teachers dreamed of helping fellow teachers foster the spirit of exploration for young learners in TK (Transitional Kindergarten)-2. The findings have resulted in a three-step interdisciplinary learning framework for partnerships between TK-2 students and scientists.

Living Loose Parts: Creatures of Curiosity

Presenters: Dr. Gull Carla, Dr. Laura Wilhelm

Notice and enhance the living things in and around our environments to incorporate them into children’s playful explorations. Expand the loose parts mindset beyond static objects to responsibly embrace more interactive play and social-emotional development with living things.

Loose Parts: Inside and Out

Presenter: Kyla Maciosek

Are you wanting to experience more nature with your students? Want to watch their creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving flourish? Adding natural loose parts play is one of the easiest ways to do all three and more! Come discover loose parts play in this playful and interactive workshop.

Mentoring Nature Connections with a Mathematical Lens

Presenter: Lauren MacLean

Have you ever noticed the figurative brick wall that goes up when exploring math with your students? I have witnessed those mental blocks fade into the background when we take our learners outdoors to explore math. Let's investigate how and where we can uncover math concepts when we are in nature.

Mindfulness Matters: Motivating Magical Moments

Presenter: Kristy Nuttall

This session will highlight research about the far-reaching effects of mindfulness, and then dive into how to take a big concept like mindfulness and equip ourselves with the tools to create magical moments in an outdoor classroom and truly focus on being in the now.

Nature Ditties: Songs to Celebrate and Explore Nature (A GuideNotes Workshop)

Presenter: Kathryn Para

Nature Ditties are little songs to celebrate nature and get outside. Part of Kathryn Para’s “GuideNotes” program, these nature-based or outdoor-oriented songs help create outdoor routines, cue actions, and enhance wonder. Includes “GuideNotes” tools with linked recordings by Kathryn and Frolic the Fox.

Nature Nurtures: A Study of Ants in a Toddler Nature Explore Classroom and How It Creates Community

Presenters: LaRinda Hall, Heather Fox

Hear how a group of toddlers in a Nature Explore classroom investigate an ant colony and how this leads to a deeper understanding of community. Learn how to set up space for this kind of exploration and why nature connections are essential and vibrant for learning communities like this one.

Nature Plans in An Urban Land! Outdoor Adventures in Metropolitan Areas

Presenter: Jasmin Field

This workshop will explore how to create and manage an Outdoor Neighborhood Classroom, specifically delving into the process of establishing nature-based learning opportunities in communities with less access to nature. The presenter will discuss possible barriers that limit young children and families’ participation in outdoor learning and share how to incorporate cultural awareness into program planning. 

Outdoor Art and Sensory Studio: Considerations for Environmentally Friendly Materials

Presenter: Chelsey Harrington

Providing an inclusive, accessible space for children to engage in process art and sensory activities is great for their social emotional, physical, and mental health. A list of activity ideas and an environmentally friendly supply list will be provided.

Resourcing Ecospirituality to Build Connection, Promote Wellness, and Transform the Ecological Worldview of Teachers

Presenter: Medora West Willmore

In this session, the researcher will outline her ecospirituality research, share her research progress, engage in discourse around the topic, and provide experiential learning opportunities by facilitating some of the ecospiritual practices that are embedded in her research curriculum.

Seed to Seedling with The Living Classroom Learning Lab

Presenters: Danette K Riehle, Andrew J. Riehle

The Living Classroom Learning Lab is a K-5 multidisciplinary, arts-integrated, environmental education curriculum based on Next Generation Science and Common Core Standards. Children connect with nature and learn the concepts and skills necessary to live sustainably with the Earth. 

Sowing Seeds of Change

Presenters: Stefanie Wiencke, Jessica Vosburgh

Strategies for change-tapping into the community to increase accessibility, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Learn how the Kendall County Forest Preserve District’s pilot collaboration with the Public School District’s Early Childhood Education Center opened a door to nature-based learning for all.

Start at Zero: Incorporating Nature-Based Play in Early Childhood Home Visiting

Presenters: Jumesha Wade, PhD, Arleen Martinez, Daysha Lewis

Start at Zero believes that an optimal ECE environment incorporates access to research-backed and informed practices, holistic approaches, and a signature two-generation practice to achieve comprehensive health, education, and development through home visiting.

STEM Imagination Guides: Connecting Literacy, STEM, and Social-Emotional Learning

Presenters: Sarah Roberts, Jackie Steffen

In our world today, emotional intelligence is vital to building relationships in both early childhood and adulthood. This year's guides focus on topics such as friendship, unity, and diversity to help children begin to build the skills needed each and every day with each and every interaction.

Stories and Strategies: Strengthening Empathy in Early Childhood and Beyond

Presenter: Claire Underwood

How can nature preschools support empathy for people, animals, and the planet? Drawing on what is known in the literature and the experiences of nature preschool educators, concrete strategies brought to life by real stories and examples will be shared to support empathy in your context.

Teach Math and Reading in the Schoolyard, Neighborhood, and Farther Afield (Pre-K–5)

Presenter: Rachel Tidd

Utilize the unique features available in your setting to teach math and reading skills outdoors. Special focus will be placed on the schoolyard, neighborhood, and farther afield. Learn practical ways to support and teach place value, computation, numeracy, phonics, and writing outdoors.

Teaching Mindset: Change Your Scope and Sequence for Nature-Based Learning

Presenter: Deb Tamez

Great for early childhood teachers, in this session you'll learn how to make the move away from a normal framework to create one that fits nature-based learning. I'll share how to create/modify lessons to engage young children in nature as well as ideas for outdoor design space.

The Nature Play Project: Preparing Future Early Childhood Educators and Occupational Therapy Practitioners in Outdoor Learning Environments 

Presenters: Angela Rekers, Angela McCombs

ECE and OT faculty from St. Ambrose University present preliminary findings from a study that aims to develop collaborative approaches between early childhood educators and occupational therapists to promote nature play for children with diverse abilities in outdoor learning environments.

The Power of Yet: Teaching Growth Mindset with Stories of Naturalists, Explorers, Artists, and Scientists

Presenters: Natasha Grogan, Sandra Babbitt

Learn about the Power of Yet and growth mindset in the outdoor classroom using literature, discussion, art, and storytelling.

Wondering in Nature: How Phenology-Based Poetry Nurtures Nature-Based, Inquiry-Based Early Childhood Literacy Experiences

Presenter: Jade Cashman

Wander and wonder alongside as I share how to incorporate inquiry-based questioning techniques with phenology-based poetry as an invitation to early childhood literacy experiences for nature-based early childhood educators. Resources for continuing this work in your own spaces will be shared.

Young Children’s Nature Stewardship

Presenter: Elena Dominguez Contreras

Children can be agents of change in their communities through nature stewardship. Research on young children in environmental education has paid little attention to their stewardship efforts. I propose a stewardship framework: “Learning in nature, acting for nature, and acting with nature."



Posters will be made available as downloadable resources. Access to posters will coincide with pre-recorded session access in July. 


Elevating and Equalizing Executive Function Outcomes through Nature-Based Learning

Presenters: Julie Ernst, Ahna Neil, Becky Gamache

A quantitative study of 200 children in publicly-funded Pre-K explored the relationship among executive function, nature-based approaches, and SES. Results suggest nature-based practices further equity in terms of who experiences and ultimately benefits from nature-based early learning practices.

Fostering Empathy in Early Childhood: Investigating the Impact of Preschool Type

Presenters: Claire Underwood, Dr. Julie Ernst

Empathy can be a powerful driver for positive social change. Do nature preschools foster the development of empathy in young children? Presenters will provide insight into study results and implications regarding the potential of nature preschools to foster empathy for people and animals.

Great Expectations: Are They the Same for Nature-Based and Traditional Early Childhood Educators?

Presenters: Lyn Schaefer, Amanda Oudenhoven

Interviews of traditional preschool and nature-based educators reveal differences and similarities in their expectations for students. This poster session will present the results of these interviews and the specific skills nature-based and traditional educators emphasize with students.

The Library Has Left the Building: Outdoor Experiences Promoting Early Literacy

Presenter: Erika Hogan

The library is often considered a static environment characterized by books, reading, expectations of silence, and indoor spaces. But what doors can be opened when literacy programming goes outside? Topics include nature engagement in city environments, working with limited greenspace, and more.

Self and Co-Regulation with Support from Nature

Presenter: Nicole Corbo

Becoming dysregulated is a normal human experience. We self-regulate to show up fully for students; we support social-emotional learning through co-regulation - as the saying goes, "regulation before expectation." This poster presentation details tried and true nature-based techniques.

Sharing Biographies to Enhance Children’s Awareness of Scientists and Conservationists in the EC-Grade 4 Classroom

Presenter: Ashley Campbell

Learning about the impact scientists and conservationists have made has the potential to shape children’s perceptions of environmental issues. Biographies and activities focusing on Marianne North, Charles Henry Turner, Fred and Nora Urquhart, and Lady Bird Johnson will be shared.

What is Taught in a Nature-Based Preschool Classroom? A Year-Long Case Study of Curriculum Designed to Support Children’s Development and Content Learning

Presenters: Ariadni Kouzeli, Jennifer Gallo-Fox

Little research has explored learning across developmental domains and content areas. Two years of a nature-based preschool teacher’s communications about classroom activities were studied. Evidence of learning opportunities across all areas was found. Indoor and outdoor experiences were compared.