Willamette Partnership’s Oregon Health & Outdoors Initiative partnered with outdoor early childhood experts across the country to develop the Outdoor Preschool Policy Action Framework. The framework helps advocates — from parents, teachers, and administrators to elected officials — find a pathway to make outdoor preschool available to all. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this work, so this resource identifies many potential options you can use to start moving your state along the pathway to make outdoor preschools available to everyone!
In a recording of our latest forum, featuring this amazing new resource, you'll hear stories from Velvet Cooley (Mid-Columbia Children’s Council), Alex Brooks (City of Boise Parks and Recreation), and Aliza Yair (Washington Dept of Children, Youth, and Families).
Special thanks to our hosts, Lynny Brown & Kit Harrington
Lynny Brown, Oregon Health and Outdoors Initiative
Lynny joined the Oregon Health and Outdoors Initiative in October 2019 as a graduate research fellow to support their mission of building healthy communities by getting Oregonians outdoors. She is working on their Outdoor Preschool Project that aims to expand access to outdoor preschools by advocating for licensure. In collaboration with providers across the state, she has built a nature and outdoor preschool network map for Oregon, developed an Equity Toolkit for Outdoor Preschools, and a Policy Action Plan to identify pathways to licensure for outdoor preschools. Her background is in environmental public health and early childhood development.
Kit Harrington, Natural Start Alliance, Voices for Vermont's Children
Kit is the co-founder of one of the country's first urban outdoor preschools, the Fiddleheads Forest School at the University of Washington. In 2015, Kit founded the Washington Nature Preschool Association to support the regional growth of nature-based early childhood education and successfully advocated for the passage of the first licensing regulations for outdoor preschools in North America. Today, she continues her work to support the field as a member of the leadership team for the Council on Nature and Forest Preschools. Kit was part of the writing team that crafted the Nature-Based Preschool Professional Practice Guidebook, and is now the Policy and Professional Training Coordinator for the Natural Start Alliance, helping improve equitable access to nature-based early learning experiences and develop meaningful supports for educators around the country.
Mid-Columbia Children’s Council Tygh Valley site moved entirely outdoors in 2020. We spoke with the COO to learn how they continue to meet licensing requirements and Head Start learning domains in the fully outdoor classroom. Read More
In October 2019, Washington became the first state in the country to license outdoor preschools. Kit Harrington, former director of Fiddleheads Forest School and founder of the Washington Nature Preschool Association, helped to develop Washington's outdoor preschool licensing standards. In our latest Feature Story, Kit reflects on what this development means for the field of nature-based early learning and how what's happening in Washington can serve as a model for future advocacy. Read More