Sharing Through Recertification

By Lana Gilson, Nature Explore program Outreach Coordinator 

DSC01301_1Each year we ask each of the Certified Classrooms  in our network to share with us how they are sustaining, adding to, or have changed their Nature Explore Classroom throughout the year. Through a short recertification application, they have the opportunity to showcase their site with rich stories and photos. Their original web page content and photos, found on our website, remains the same, and the new stories and photos are available with just a quick click on the recertification ribbon.

Through yearly recertification and their designated web page on www.natureexplore.org, our network of classrooms “share”.  They share hundreds of ways they are connecting with families and their communities.  They share all the unique ways they are developing their space to meet the needs of their staff and children.  They share inspirational stories from everyday learning and connections with nature that wouldn’t happen anywhere else.  They share how their classrooms are leading them to other certifications, such as becoming a Monarch Waystation, Wildscapes Habitat Restoration site, or National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Habitat. They share stories of their transformational journey to certification in front of large groups at local and national conferences.  They are accepting awards and being recognized for their work in creating beautiful spaces and amazing learning opportunities in their outdoor classroom.

In addition to celebrating successes, challenges are also shared.  Our research shows that recertification is extremely beneficial in helping sites create sustainable practices, keeping up their outdoor spaces, and ensuring continual growth. It also helps develop a commitment towards maintenance: care of plantings, components and equipment, and taking care of hard earned investments. It aids sites in developing programming, family involvement, and celebrating volunteers and partners.

Recertification also helps keep the contacts of the Certified Classroom network current so that we may send and receive information to help in the mission of connecting children and families to nature each day.  Most recently, our network of Certified Classrooms was asked to participate in a national research study.  The feedback from this amazing network was critical, and the research administrators let us know that they had never experienced such an incredible response rate.  Thank you!

Our Nature Explore consultant/writer continues to make contact with recertified classrooms for interviews, informing our network about great practices through blog posts and articles. Thank you for all your amazing work to connect children with nature each day and allowing us to help you celebrate your success each year!


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