Give Yourself the Gift of the Nature Explore/Outdoor Classroom Project Leadership Institute

By Nancy Rosenow, Executive Director of the Nature Explore program

lied-lodgeOne 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 every year. It’s a time to relax, renew, grow professionally, grow as a community, and perhaps most importantly, grow personally.

Here’s the personal part: The people who attend are beginning to feel like family to me. We are kindred spirits. We all work to support children and families in one way or another, and we know that connections with the wonders of nature help children grow better, in all areas of development. And we adults—educators, administrators, and families—have felt our spirits lifted as well. Attendees at the Institute know this, and we remind each other of this fact. We say: “Be good to yourself. Go out and delight in nature’s gifts. Take this time for you.”

Here’s the professional part: Great ideas. As more and more people sign on to join the Institute “family,” exciting new thoughts are added to the mix, and we are all enriched. I come each year to gain new seeds of knowledge and creativity. I leave excited to plant those seeds. I can’t wait to see what will grow.

Here’s the community part: We need each other. The work we are doing is bringing about a new way of thinking—about children, about education, and about our relationship with the natural world. Not everyone understands what we’re trying to do—yet. We need each other’s support to help spread the vision, and we must not work alone. Just like giant sequoia trees, we need to intertwine our roots so we can weather life’s storms together. We’re part of something important here.

So, once again this year, I am giving myself the gift of attending the Leadership Institute at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, NE, July 19–23, 2015.

I really hope you’ll join me.