Community Connection


The Padrino (Part 2)

James Oftendal, founder of the US Forest Service’s Generation Green program, has worked hard for over two decades to build its diverse, twenty person staff. Generation Green, which started with one school in Central California, now has people in Los Angeles, the Central Valley, Sacramento, South Lake Tahoe, Eldorado National Forest, and north in Mendocino….
Read More



The Padrino (Part 1)

During his first few days working for the US Forest Service in California’s Sierra National Forest, James Oftedal would have walked home—if he’d known the way. He was out of his element, and ready to resume life in a rough area of Fresno, where he’d grown up. In this new, alien environment of the forest,…
Read More



No Teacher Left Indoors (part 2)

In January 2015 we met Beth Fryer, owner of the Teddy Bear Day Care and Preschool, of Traverse City, Michigan. Her colleagues from other day care and preschool sites never understood why Beth spent so much of her day outdoors with the children. At the time, her very large outdoor space had plastic toys, a…
Read More



My Magic One-Room Schoolhouse

Imagine. You’re in a bookstore, browsing the Education section.  An irresistible book title catches your eye: “My Magic One-Room Schoolhouse: a True Story.”  With a bit of anticipation, you draw the large format book from the shelf. The cover photo doesn’t seem to fit with the title.  A girl who looks about four years old…
Read More



Relax, Renew and Grow Professionally

One thing I’ve come to know for sure: I can only be as kind to others as I am to myself. That’s why I look forward to the Nature Explore/Outdoor Classroom Project Leadership Institute national conference every year. It’s a time to relax, renew, grow professionally, grow as a community, and perhaps most importantly, grow…
Read More



Meet Your Local Forester

Tree selection and care are important considerations for your Nature Explore Classroom. If you’re selecting new trees, you may want to consider factors such as ease of maintenance, or the structural elements that may draw children’s curiosity. If you have existing trees in your outdoor classroom, you may need advice on their health and maintenance….
Read More



The Heart of Hope

For over fifty years, the Hope Center of Denver, Colorado, has provided early education and meals to special-needs and at-risk children, largely from minority communities. The story of the Hope Center and its Nature Explore Classroom inspired this 2015 blog post. Yet it deserves another; for its heart. Hope recently hosted two back-to-back Nature Explore…
Read More



No Teacher Left Indoors (part 1)

Back in the 1990’s, the faculty of a Colorado preschool began studying the municipal preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. The Italian schools had become famous for their creative educational practices that flowed from a core philosophy. The child is a current (not just future) citizen of her community; she is an active and capable learner;…
Read More



Are you ready for a Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom? Let’s do this!

Every day, I want to shout from the roof tops, “The Nature Explore program is changing education! Come on world, let’s do this together!” I have the absolutely incredible opportunity to live and breathe Nature Explore and watch the lives of children, families and educators completely change as a result of embracing the outdoors as…
Read More



The Nature-Infused City of Reggio Emilia, Italy

The municipal preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy are studied by education professionals internationally; with good reason. Preschool students in these schools are seen as being capable and competent researchers of the world around them. Curricula of each school flows from the children’s interests and imaginations, incorporating rigorous academic concepts along their journeys. Celebrated productions of…
Read More