Call for Proposals

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The Call for Proposals for this event has closed.

About the Conference

The Natural Start Alliance’s annual Nature-Based Early Learning Conference brings together hundreds of new and seasoned nature-based early childhood education professionals from the U.S. and abroad. Sessions explore how to plan, implement, and advocate for nature-based early learning programs; report on new and relevant research; share best practices in teacher education; explore education policy; and examine other topics that advance the field of nature-based early learning. Through in-depth workshops, hands-on sessions, compelling conversations, and research presentations, we aim to promote safe, effective, and inclusive nature-based practices. Natural Start invites proposals that align with our goal of advancing innovation and quality in nature-based early childhood education.

This year's conference theme is Thrive. Together we'll explore the role of nature and education in promoting healing, addressing injustice, and helping children, families, communities, and the planet thrive.


The Natural Start Alliance requests proposals for sessions that:

  • Explore new research, advances in practice, innovative ideas, or relevant case studies
  • Are solution-oriented and include concrete takeaways
  • Promote equity and inclusion
  • Target emerging, intermediate, or experienced professionals
  • Link to the practices described in the Nature-Based Preschool Professional Practice Guidebook

This year we particularly welcome proposals that address one or more of the following themes in nature-based education:

  • Advocacy
  • Justice
  • COVID-19 
  • Climate 
  • K-3 Education
  • Infants & Toddlers

Session Formats

Sessions will be offered in the following formats:


Live sessions are 30-90 minutes in length and include workshops, traditional and hands-on sessions, and discussions. Live sessions are broadcast at a specific date and time during the conference week (July 28-30, 2021) and will be recorded and available for viewing on demand following the live event.

On Demand

On-demand sessions are 30-50 minutes in length and include traditional and hands-on sessions, and posters. On-demand sessions will be pre-recorded in May-June, 2021, and will be available for viewing at any time throughout the conference and following the live event.



Workshop (1.5 hrs)

Workshops are the longest format offered and take an in-depth look at a topic or concept. Workshops combine elements of traditional presentations such as slides and videos with more participatory elements like Q&A, guided discussion, or demonstrations. Use of polling, whiteboard, collaborative docs, and other interactive tools are welcome. Offered live.

Traditional Session (30-50 min)

Traditional sessions focus on a single topic, typically a talk or media presentation requiring minimal interaction with participants, including opportunities for Q&A. Offered live or on demand.  

Hands On (30-50 min)

Hands-on sessions provide participants with an opportunity to actively engage in activities about a particular topic. Sessions may require participants to gather or prepare materials in advance and can include demonstrations. Offered live or on demand.

Discussions (30-50 min)

Discussions are sessions that engage participants in conversation around a central idea. Presenters introduce the topic they wish to explore and guide participants through a discussion. Use of polling, whiteboard, collaborative docs, and other interactive tools are highly encouraged. Offered live.


Poster presentations report on the results of research, display a case study or resource, or are otherwise conveyed in a graphic format. Posters are offered as a download and can be accompanied by a short video or audio summary. Offered on demand.

Audio Visual Equipment

All presenters will need access to a reliable internet connection and, in all cases except poster sessions, a web camera. Natural Start cannot provide any audio-visual equipment.

Live sessions will be scheduled by Natural Start on the Natural Start Alliance/NAAEE Zoom account and will take place in Zoom meeting rooms, with all the tools available to any Zoom meeting, including polls, chat, and breakout rooms. All live sessions will have a dedicated room moderator for tech support. 

On-demand sessions will be recorded in advance of the conference, in May-June, 2021. Natural Start will work with presenters to schedule and/or upload session recordings once a session has been accepted.

Live and on-demand sessions can make use of outdoor environments if the presenter has the proper technology, tools, and connection needed to deliver a successful outdoor presentation. 

Presenter Discount

Lead presenters of accepted proposals will receive a complimentary full conference registration. One registration will be offered per session. 

Review Process and Notifications

Proposals will be evaluated by a review committee based on alignment with conference objectives, relevancy, clarity of learning objectives, overall quality of submission (all required questions answered completely and clearly, etc.), and consistency with accepted standards for effective adult learning. Notifications will be sent in March 2021. Accepted presenters must register by the presenter registration deadline in order to remain in the conference program.

Thank you for your interest in sharing your expertise with conference attendees. We look forward to seeing you there!