We are thrilled to offer a five-day Nature-based Teacher Certification! This 36-hour course provides in-depth study of best practices in nature-based early childhood education to prepare you for meaningful outdoor learning experiences. Whether you are in a formal school or childcare setting or working in a nature or forest preschool, this course is designed to meet the needs of early childhood educators working in any setting. Learn more about each level of certification below. 

See photos
 from the first cohort of teachers to participate July 2018 in Baltimore, MD.

Registration Options

July 6-10, 2020, Level 1 (Introductory) 
McDonogh School in Owings Mills, Maryland

*Due to uncertainties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have decided to reschedule the July courses planned at the Verdi EcoSchool in Melbourne, FL. Our July 6-10, 2020 courses in Maryland will take place as planned. 

New online module available for Level 1!
Course offered for six consecutive weeks to small cohort of teachers
Dates: June 23-July 30, 2020 on Tu./Wed./Thurs. from 2-3:30PM (EST)

About this Nature-Based Teacher Certification 

The introductory certification course covers a range of skills and approaches crucial to implementing nature-based early childhood pedagogy. Topics include: working in and with the local landscape; risk management and safety routines; developmentally appropriate practice outside; emergent curriculum; licensing considerations; outdoor inquiry, literacy, creative arts, math, and games; making learning visible through documentation and assessment; breathing nature in classroom spaces;  gear, supplies, and tools; honing naturalist skills and personal sense of wonder; and ways to support your learning community. We will also touch on relevant research, standards, NAEYC positions statements, and policy that impacts delivery of nature-based ECE.

The intermediate course is designed for participants who have already completed the intro credential. During the registration process, you may include special topics for deeper study.  The intermediate course delves into more nuanced facets of running a nature-based program, managing/mentoring teachers, and promoting your program. Participants will document outdoor teaching practices for an online learning component as part of the culminating credential. The intermediate course addresses these topics:

Preparation of the Guide: Reflective practices for deep, rich personal nature connection; approaches to hone clarity of mind, intentions, and purpose 

Teaching Practices & Outdoor Curriculum:
 Emergent and intentional curriculum; application of skill development across developmental domains in outdoor settings

Authentic Assessment & Documentation:
 Assessment of child growth and development in the context of outdoor learning

Administration: Shaping your program’s vision; key considerations for nature-based administrators; hiring; on-going staff mentoring; staff and program evaluation

Primitive Skills & Handcrafts: Practical skills using tools and local natural resources; fire-making, foraging, and cooking with young children

Risk Management:
 Health and safety topics; policies and procedures that protect children, families, and staff; special considerations for administrators

Land Values & Stewardship:
 Implementing and instilling sustainable approaches to sharing the land and its natural resources; local natural history, ecology, and conservation topics surround a given site; identification of native flora/fauna and ecological communities; cultural and ethical considerations about land use

Schedule (In-person training experience)

We gather from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, with an altered schedule on Thursday which includes program observations, afternoon sessions, and an evening campfire (until 8:30 p.m.). Yoga is included on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings at 7:45 a.m. Complete schedule and training agenda will be provided following registration.

How do I obtain Nature-based Teacher Certification status?

1) Complete the course, which is a live training event. (Sorry, an online option is not available. Because of its depth and significance, we don't believe an online offering can replace the value of a live training experience for certification.)  Successful completion is determined by:

Ÿ Active participation and attendance for the full training
Ÿ Completion of assignments including journaling/reflective practice, readings, and action plans
Ÿ Demonstrate thorough understanding of nature-based education and pedagogy based on training experiences

2) Proof of completion of early childhood training, often referred to as a 90 hour certification OR the equivalent Child Development Associate (CDA) credential.  This ensures that participants have basic knowledge of early childhood education principles, which is required to work in a licensed setting. These requirements vary by state; participants must demonstrate they have basic credentials to teach in a licensed setting where they live. NOTE: For educators working in non-formal and unlicensed settings, this may be waived.

3) Proof of current Infant/Child First Aid and CPR credentials. 

We will provide a training certificate at the conclusion of the course to acknowledge either a "certificate of attendance" or "full certification". If you do not meet requirements stated above or some aspect is pending, we will award the certificate of attendance. If you would like the full certification, you may submit outstanding documents up to one year following the certification course for full certification status. Participants who successfully complete the training and provide required documentation will receive full certification.

Who should attend?

Educators, administrators, and child care providers are ideal participants for the Nature-based Teacher Certification.  Others who could benefit include: parents, camp leaders, church leaders, retired teachers, scout leaders, after school youth programmers, etc. The course is designed for practitioners working in a range of learning environments including nature preschools, forest kindergartens, traditional preschools, public schools, childcare centers, or daycare settings. Participants will consider their unique locations to determine how to make the most of their indoor and outdoor learning environments.

Who are the trainers?

Experienced nature-based educators and naturalists from across the region share their knowledge throughout the course. You can count on outstanding expertise throughout the week-long experience. Details will be forth-coming for registered participants.

How long is the certification current?

The certification is good for three years from date of completion. After that, you must take the Level 2 certification (good for another three years) or at least 12 clock hours of nature-based training with ERAFANS each year thereafter to remain current. 

Meals & Accommodations (In-person training experience)

Five-day course includes daily breakfast and lunch, Monday-Friday, with lunch and dinner only on Thursday. You can specify allergies and/or meal preferences when you register. Please be sure to bring your own canteen to use throughout the week.

Baltimore, MD and Melbourne, FL options coming soon! And of course, Air BnB offers options for many affordable accomodations - sometimes even in yurts or tree houses. 

About the Training Sites

July 6-10, 2020 Level 1 (Introductory) 

The McDonogh School in Owings Mills, MD is located on a picturesque, 800-acre campus that includes streams, woods, fields, ponds, and Roots, the school's farm. There are countless opportunities for outdoor exploration here. We are delighted to roam the grounds for our training this summer!

Certification courses will be offered Summer 2021 at the Maumee Valley Country Day School in Ohio. Registration coming Fall 2020!

Please note that all participants are required to complete this waiver during registration. Our refund policies are found here as well. Additional health precautions will be implemented to safeguard our learning community from the spread of COVID-19 based on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations. For additional information, contact the director, Monica Wiedel-Lubinski.

Spaces are limited and these courses fill! Don't delay if you'd like to join us!

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