Call for Proposals
Deadline for Submissions: February 4, 2022
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. In 2022, the conference will include both in-person and online options. Natural Start invites proposals for in-person and online sessions that advance innovation, quality, and equity in nature-based early childhood education.
The Natural Start Alliance requests proposals for sessions that:
- Provide opportunities for hands-on learning and/or deep discussion
- Are solution-oriented and include concrete takeaways
- Share new research, advances in practice, innovative ideas, or relevant case studies
- Promote equity and inclusion
- Target emerging, intermediate, or experienced professionals
- Reflect the practices described in the Nature-Based Preschool Professional Practice Guidebook
Theme: Teaching for Tomorrow
This year’s conference theme is Teaching for Tomorrow. We invite proposals that explore the role of nature-based early childhood education in securing a just and sustainable future for all, starting today. We particularly welcome proposals that address one or more of the following themes in nature-based education:
- Sustainability & Climate Education
- Social-Emotional Learning
- Sustainable Operations
- Environmental & Social Justice
- K-3 Education
- Infants & Toddlers
In-Person and Online Options
We are very excited to return to an in-person conference with a focus on what’s best about meeting in person: networking, discussion, and hands-on experience.
We’re also happy to continue to offer a robust selection of online sessions, maximizing the benefits of each approach. Online content will emphasize on-demand access to professional learning in the form of demonstrations and presentations about research, practice, and programs. A limited number of live sessions will be available for online participants, but we are not seeking proposals for live online sessions with this call for proposals.
Online Session Formats
Online sessions will be pre-recorded by presenters and submitted by June 1, 2022. These sessions are under 60 minutes and will be offered on-demand (no live component) in the following formats:
Presentations are traditional sessions, typically a talk or media presentation, exploring a topic relevant to nature-based early childhood education.
Podcasts are audio-only presentations that are designed for participants to listen to, not watch. These may include (but are not limited to) in-depth conversations on a specific topic, interviews, guided outdoor experiences, or moderated panel discussions.
Demonstrations share a specific technique, approach, or activity with attendees by showing how to do it and sharing instructions for participants to recreate on their own.
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.
In-Person Session Formats
In-person sessions will be 60 minutes and offered in the following formats:
Presentations are traditional sessions focused on a topic relevant to nature-based early childhood education, typically a talk or media presentation, including opportunities for questions and discussion. A limited number of this session format can be accepted in person; most will be offered online.
Hands-on sessions provide participants with an opportunity to engage in activities or observe demonstrations. These sessions often are designed to be offered outdoors.
Discussions engage participants in conversation around a central idea. Presenters introduce the topic they wish to explore and guide participants through a discussion.
Poster presentations report on the results of research, display a case study or resource, or are otherwise conveyed in a graphic format. Posters can be viewed throughout the conference and are highlighted during a poster session that includes Q&A with poster presenters.
The conference venue has a large outdoor space located just outside the building and is available for any presenter to use during their session. A select number of sessions will be designated as outdoor sessions. These sessions have priority of the outdoor space and will be assigned a specific location outdoors.
Outdoor sessions will take place, weather-dependent, in the greenspace adjacent to the conference hotel. This space is partly shaded. Please indicate in your proposal if your outdoor session can be adapted to an indoor setting if it can not be accepted in the outdoor format. All outdoor sessions will include back-up indoor locations in the event of inclement weather.
The conference will feature five thematic strands:
- Teaching (focused on teaching strategies in nature-based early childhood education)
- Administration (focused on administrative issues in nature-based early childhood education)
- Research (focused on early childhood environmental education research)
- Teacher Development in Higher Education (focused on efforts to prepare educators entering the field or that provide educators with ongoing training or support)
- Strategies for Change (focused on strategies for making the case for and engaging allies in nature-based early learning)
Audio Visual Equipment
Online presenters must record their session and submit a recording to Natural Start by June 1, 2022. (Please note that in rare cases, recordings of insufficient audio or video quality may be declined.) Online sessions can be recorded in outdoor environments if the presenter has the proper technology, tools, and internet connection to create a presentation of sufficient audio and video quality.
In-person presenters will have access to a projector, screen, and internet-connected computer with PowerPoint capabilities. Any additional equipment or materials can be rented through the event’s audio-visual vendor at the presenter’s expense. Outdoor sessions will not have access to AV technology unless supplied by presenters. Tables are not provided outdoors, and a limited number of chairs will be available for participants who need them. Poster presenters will have access to an easel and foam-core board to which they can attach their posters.
Lead presenters of accepted online and in-person proposals will receive a discounted conference registration rate. One discount will be offered per session.
Review Process and Notifications
A review committee will evaluate alignment of proposals 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 2022. Accepted presenters must register by the presenter registration deadline 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!