JULY 8-12, 2019 (Intro credential)
JULY 15-19, 2019 (Intermediate)

AUGUST 12-16, 2019 (Intro credential)


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. 

See photos from the first cohort of teachers to participate in the course, July 9-13, 2018 in Baltimore, MD.

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.

Participants may also earn graduate credit from the University of Maryland, College Park for this certification as titled, "Nature Pedag
ogy in Nature-Based Early Childhood Education" (pending approval). Additional registration and fees are required through UMD for credit in addition to ERAFANS registration. UMD registration deadline forthcoming.

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 upon 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.

Meals & Accommodations

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.

Camping options exist at both the Baltimore and Chapel Hill locations for a nominal fee (Sunday evening - Friday evening). Both locations are nature-based schools, not campgrounds, so be prepared for rustic camping if you decide to go that route! You can designate your accommodation preference when you register.

Baltimore, MD options: 

Mt. Washington Conference Center
Inn at The Colonnade Baltimore - A DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel

Chapel Hill, NC options:
Hampton Inn & Suites Chapel Hill
Courtyard by Marriott Chapel Hill

And of course Air BnB offers options for many affordable accommodations - sometimes even in yurts or tree houses!

About the Training Sites

July 8-12 (Intro level 1) and July 15-19, 2019 (Intermediate level 2)
The Waldorf School of Baltimore in Baltimore, MD is a certified green school through the Maryland Green Schools Program. Their eco-literacy and sustainability program focuses on helping children develop a healthy relationship with the environment while understanding how their actions affect the world around them. Their extensive nature-based curriculum takes the children directly into the natural world through various outdoor activities that reinforce the importance of respecting nature and inspiring them to act in ways that help protect the environment. 

August 12-16, 2019 courses (Intro level 1)
The Wildflower Learning Community in
Chapel Hill, NC offers a Reggio Emilia-inspired nature preschool program that utilizes the backdrop of both farm and forest. Wildflower offers community, support, a space for children and families to connect with nature and new friends. The school will also be the first shipping container preschool and kindergarten in NC, slated for completion in Spring 2019. 

Our course will be offered July 13-17, 2020 at the Verdi EcoSchool in Melbourne, Florida. Registration coming Fall 2019!

Please note that all participants are required to complete this waiver during registration. Our refund policies are found here as well. For additional information, contact the director, Monica Wiedel-Lubinski.

Sorry, there are NO MORE SEATS in the July 8-12, 2019 course. Spaces are limited for August 12-16 course in Chapel Hill, NC!

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