Nature Explore Certification FAQ

by Lana Gilson, Outreach Coordinator
Nature Explore/Dimensions Educational Research Foundation

I am inspired daily. Why? Because as part of my role as the Nature Explore Outreach Coordinator, I have the privilege of reviewing each application that is sent in for certification through the Nature Explore program.  As I eagerly go over each submission, I can’t help but feel personally connected to each site.  Photos and descriptions present a personal story of transformation.  Plain playgrounds and outdoor spaces of earlier decades have been shaped into beautiful outdoor classrooms with children and adults engaged in exploration.  Through the vision, dedication, and hard work of so many, these wonderful, natural spaces are changing lives-transforming our children and the world. I am inspired by all of you who are creating new outdoor spaces or transforming your existing playgrounds into nature-filled spaces for learning.

The Nature Explore certification process encourages classrooms to tell their stories of transformation and be recognized for their efforts. Using the researched based, field-tested Guiding Principles outlined in the Learning With Nature Idea Book 128 outdoor classrooms have been officially recognized by Nature Explore for their outstanding efforts to make nature a part of children’s daily lives. There are hundreds of additional organizations throughout the nation working towards this same goal.  These sites will soon join a network of Nature Explore Certified Classrooms that allows for idea-sharing, peer support, and continuous learning and development.

I encourage you to submit your application and be recognized for your life-changing efforts in connecting children with nature.

Below are a few common questions that people ask:

Must the names of the areas in my classroom be the same as the ones from the Learning With Nature Idea book?

All the recommended areas must be included, but the names that you give them can be as unique as your site.  Please provide labeled photos identifying each of the required areas along with the unique name your site has used.

Do I need to send digital pictures?

Digital pictures provide the best quality images for use on your designated web page.  Please send pictures on a CD or use a large file sharing program (found free on the internet-Drop Box, Google Picasa, or You Send It). Digital pictures embedded into a PowerPoint do not provide a crisp enough images.

How long will it take to approve my application?

Upon receipt, we will review your application within a week.  It will take  7-14 days to receive your official cedar Nature Explore Classroom sign, certificate and for your press release to be distributed.