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.
Level I: Nature-Based Teacher Certification course (online)
Dates: June 21-July 28, 2022 meets on Tues./Wed./Thurs. from 2-3:30PM (EST)
Levels I & II: Nature-Based Teacher Certification course (in person!)
Waldorf School of Baltimore, 4801 Tamarind Rd, Baltimore, MD 21209
Dates: June 27-July 1, 2022 from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily
Levels I: Nature-Based Teacher Certification course (in person!)
Lime Hollow Nature Center, 338 McLean Rd, Cortland, NY 13045
Dates: August 8-12, 2022 from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily
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
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.
1) Complete the course, which is a live training event. (Level 1 is also offered as a six-week online option.) Successful completion is determined by:
You must upload these documents to fulfill the certification requirements, so please be sure to have them available if you would like to receive full certification at the conclusion of the training. We will provide a training certificate 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 a 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.
Experienced nature-based educators and naturalists from across the region share their knowledge throughout the course. You can count on outstanding expertise throughout your course 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.
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. Overnight accommodations are not provided during the five-day course, but occasionally on-site camping is available. Please see the registration page for more details.
Work Study (In-person training experience)
For those needing financial assistance to attend our in-person course sessions (please also see our scholarship opportunities) we now offer work study volunteer opportunities. Work study volunteers provide support during the course with set-up/clean-up, presenter support, meal preparation, and more. In exchange for volunteer hours, work study volunteers receive a discount on registration fees. For additional information, please contact our Professional Development Coordinator, Emily Woodmansee.
*Please note at all work study positions for the Baltimore session are full. We still have spots available for the NY session!
June 27-July 1, 2022 our home base will be at the Waldorf School of Baltimore, Baltimore, MD. This private co-ed elementary and middle school features a beautiful campus that extends to the woods and trails for immersive nature-based education.
August 8-12, 2022 our home base will be at the Lime Hollow Nature Center in Cortland, NY. Founded in 1993, Lime Hollow Nature Center features a peat bog, marl ponds, and hundreds of acres of preserved natural beauty for visitors to explore. Their forest preschool runs year-round and is the first forest preschool in the state of New York to be certified by the Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) as a day-care provider!
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.