Council of Nature and Forest Preschools

The Natural Start Alliance's Council of Nature and Forest Preschools was created by nature-based education professionals and is a subset of the Natural Start Alliance membership. The Council is focused specifically on advancing nature and forest preschools.

The Council works in committees, listed below. If you'd like to get involved, please contact the team lead for the area (or areas) that you are interested in. You can spend as much time on Council activities as you like: this is an all-volunteer effort of professionals who want to advance the field. Each team works on its own schedule.

Or for general inquiries about the Council, you can contact the current Council Chair, Monica Wiedel-Lubinski, Director of the Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools: director@erafans.org

 

 

Council Focus Areas and Contacts


 

Advocacy

 
Role: Help the field advocate for policies that encourage nature-based, outdoor learning
 
Team Lead: Anna Dutke, Nature Preschool Teacher, Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools
 
Contactadutke@plsas.org
 

 

Research

 
Role: Inform the field of research relevant to nature and forest schools, and promote connections among researchers interested in this field
 
Team Lead: Kit Harrington, Director, Fiddleheads Forest School
 
Contactkith@uw.edu 
 

 

Professional Development and Resources

 
Role: Promote quality professional practice in the field of nature-based education
 
Team Leads: Megan Gessler, Director, Natural Beginnings Early Learning Center and Erin Kenny, Director, Cedarsong Nature School
 
Contactmgessler@co.kendall.il.userin@cedarsongnatureschool.org
 

 

Higher Education/Teacher Preparation

 
Role: Coordinate higher education activities in teacher preparation programs for nature-based early childhood education
 
Team Lead: Patty Born Selly, Faculty Program Coodinator/Assistant Professor, Hamline University
 
Contactpselly01@hamline.edu 
 

 

Council Leadership

Attendees of the nature-based education meeting at the National Conservation Training Center.The Council for Nature and Forest Preschools began to form in 2015 at a meeting at the National Conservation Training Center to explore how the Natural Start Alliance could help accelerate the nature-based preschool movement. At that meeting, leaders in the field were clear: nature and forest schools need specialized professional support to ensure quality and grow the movement. The nature-based education professionals listed below have come together to help the Council get started, and they form the Leadership Team. They invite other leaders--whether parents, educators, administrators, researchers, or others--to join them in helping to push the field forward.

 

Council Chair

Monica Wiedel-Lubinski, Director, Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools

 

Leadership Team

Patti Bailie, Professor, University of Maine Farmington

Patty Born Selly, Faculty Program Coodinator/Assistant Professor, Hamline University

Anna Dutke, Nature Preschool Teacher, Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools

Ken Finch, Director, Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood

Megan Gessler, Director, Natural Beginnings Early Learning Center

Kit Harrington, Co-Director, Fiddleheads Forest School

Sarah Heller, Co-Director, Fiddleheads Forest School

Erin Kenny, Director, Cedarsong Nature School

Rachel Larimore, Author and Nature-Based Early Learning Consultant

David Sobel, Professor, Antioch University

Nickie Weller, Director, Children's Treehouse Child Development Center

Sheila Williams-Ridge, Director, Shirley G. Moore Laboratory School, University of Minnesota