Agenda Discovery Week Month

Curated for Me

Spring Nature Play & Learning Gathering

Jeffers Foundation
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Endorsed by Curators:
Apr 14 8:00AM - 4:00PM

Event Description:

The MN Early Childhood Outdoor Learning Network provides educators with four opportunities throughout the year to gather with other educators to collaborate, share ideas and resources, and seek support for enhancing outdoor learning opportunities for children.

The spring event is hosted by The Duluth Nature Play Collaborative a group of nature preschool teachers and involved community members that seek to educate, inspire, connect, and advocate for nature play for young children in Duluth, MN.

Why Outdoor Learning & Nature Play?

There is growing research supporting the benefits of children learning and playing outdoors. Benefits include improving academic success, social emotional skills, physical development, problem solving & critical thinking, and overall mental well-being. To learn more, check out these two resources:

Natural Learning Initiative: Benefits of Connecting Children with Nature

National Wildlife Federation: Back to School: Back Outside!

Event Details:

Who:Any PreK-3rd grade educator interested in providing outdoor learning opportunities for their students. Sessions for both "newbies" and "experienced" outdoor learning educators.


CEUs will be provided

Please Note:

Event is temporarily capped at 60 participants with the option to increase capacity, so please make sure to add your name to the waitlist if the event if full.

Due to popularity, please cancel your ticket ASAP if you find that you are no longer able to attend.

Help us save paper - No need to print the tickets! We will have a list of indviduals who have registered at the event for sign in purposes.


8:00: Registration Opens

8:30: Welcome

8:50: Research on the benefits of nature-based learning (Julie Ernst and Research Team from University of MN Duluth)

9:30: Coffee break and networking in the Exhibit Hall

9:45: Breakout session one (sessions are 50 min)

  1. Nature Play and Learning in an After-school Setting: Tales from the Trail Leah Budnik (Positive Energy Outdoors, Adventure Club)
  2. Reggio: Inspired by Nature Amber Marsolek (Duluth Forest Kinderhaus) and April Hepokoski (Little Barnyard Preschool)

  3. Setting Them Free: How to Cultivate Open-ended Free Play in Nature Meghan Morrow (Secret Forest Playschool) and Laura Whittaker (Wind Ridge Schoolhouse)

10:45: Breakout session two (sessions are 50 min)

  1. Integrating Nature Everyday Into Your Elementary Classroom Kevin Zak (Northland College)
  2. Tom Beery (Minnesota Sea Grant) on Scandinavian-inspired programming and his research or Starting a Center or Family-based Nature Preschool Kaitlin Erpestad (Hartley Nature Preschool) and Laura Whittaker (Wind Ridge Schoolhouse)

  3. Fun in the Sun: Tips and Tricks for Nature Play in the Summer Season Melinda Ferrell (The Back 40 Schoolhouse) and LouAnne Sather (Wandering Roots Nature School)

11:45: Closing

12 - 1: Lunch & Networking (Lunch may be provide TBD)

1 - 4:00 pm : Site Tours

  • Hartly Nature Preschool

  • Secret Forest Playschool

  • Duluth Forest Kinderhaus

  • Wind Ridge Schoolhouse

  • Wandering Roots Nature School

  • The Little Baryard Preschool

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