Certified Classrooms

What are Certified Nature Explore Classrooms?

Certified Nature Explore Classrooms are dynamic, nature-based play and learning spaces. Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom Design Services apply research-based, field-tested design principles to create these nature-rich outdoor spaces that can be located anywhere a school, child care center, park, or other community site might have a traditional playground. Certified Nature Explore Classrooms enhance the physical environment and add natural beauty to the surrounding area. A network of Certified Nature Explore Classrooms is growing throughout the United States in elementary schools; early childhood programs; nature centers; military bases; national forests, parks and wildlife refuges; zoos; Head Start centers; arboretums; children’s museums and other public spaces.

View Certified Nature Explore Classrooms

Certify Your Classroom

The Nature Explore Classroom Certification Program is a national initiative that recognizes schools and other organizations that have made a commitment to providing outdoor classrooms and comprehensive programming to help children use the natural world as an integral part of learning. Grounded in over a decade of research and field-testing, this widespread initiative is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Foundation in collaboration with environmental, educational, design and health organizations.

Certification Requirements

Well-designed outdoor space: Provide evidence that principles from the Learning with Nature Idea Book were used in the design of new spaces, or the redesign of existing spaces. For renewal, provide evidence of annual maintenance.
Staff development: Provide evidence that staff have attended a full-length Nature Explore Workshop. For renewal, provide evidence of annual professional development relating to nature education.
Family involvement: Provide evidence that activities or materials designed to increase family awareness and involvement in nature education for young children are provided regularly.
Why Become Certified?

You become part of a growing network of schools and organizations working to reconnect children with nature. A specially designated Nature Explore Classroom Web site will offer access to the latest news and research on children and nature, and encourage sharing of ideas.

When your outdoor classroom becomes certified, the Dimensions Foundation and the Arbor Day Foundation will send a press release to your local media to help you gain additional community recognition and support. Once certified, you will receive a Nature Explore Classroom sign, which you can post to publicly recognize your commitment, and to encourage others to create similar spaces in their own programs.

How to Apply for Certification

Apply Now

Click Apply Now to download the application form.
Mail or email application form with supporting documentation to:Nature Explore Outreach Coordinator
2700 Sylvan Road
P.O. Box 817
Nebraska City, NE 68410
[email protected]

Application fee: $50 for initial certification

Need to Recertify?