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.
Join us online OR in person! Registration now open for our virtual six-week courses and for our in person, five-day training experience (summer 2024 dates and locations coming soon!). Please note that the online course is designed like an interactive college course and requires real-time participation with presenters. This is not a pre-recorded "on demand" class - you get to network with others as you learn.
Which certification format is right for me: online or in-person?
On one hand, the in-person training affords many connections that an online course can't. You get to interact with fellow participants and fantastic presenters throughout the week. You benefit from the camaraderie and support of your colleagues as you experience new ideas, skills, and nature-based activities together - which is fun and inspiring. The live course takes place over five intense days away from work/home responsibilities, which allows you to be immersed in the training experience and focus on all the new ideas/skills that are covered.
On the other hand, the online course covers the same information but it is stretched out over six weeks in shorter sessions. This allows you to consider each topic and apply it immediately in your unique setting. Although the networking is different online, you still get to meet people from all over the country and world. Naturally, it costs more to run a live training and participants pay for accommodations. That means the cost is greater to attend the live training. If your budget is a primary factor in the decision, or if you don't want to until until the summer to take the course, then the online option is a great way to go! We only offer level 1 online, so you can always join us in person when/if you pursue levels 2 and 3.
Note: Regardless of the format you choose, we have built 36 clock hours of training into the course. While we understand that unforeseen circumstances can arise, please note that we will not award a full certification to participants who miss a significant portion of the course. The training is for 36 clock hours, so if you do not attend the full course, we cannot award full hours or certification for this training. If a challenge suddenly comes up for you, let us know and we'll see how we can help.
Fall 2023 Online Nature-Based Teacher Certification
Level I: Nature-Based Teacher Certification course (online)
Dates: October 3 - November 9, 2023; meets on Tues./Thurs. from 7-8:30PM (EST)*
*No class on Oct. 31, that class will meet on Nov. 1 instead.
The Level 1 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 Level 2 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 earth skills night (until 9 p.m.). Yoga is included on select mornings from 7:45-8:30 a.m. Complete schedule, training agenda, and materials list is provided following registration.
We gather over six consecutive weeks, which includes 24 hours of direct learning together and 12 clock hours of skills-based practice and self-paced learning. Complete schedule, training agenda, and materials list is 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 (3) 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 (Available for 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 Tess Knepp, our Director of Professional Development.
We'll be back at The Waldorf School of Baltimore for Levels I & II the week of July 10-14, 2023! This will be our third time meeting on the campus of The Waldorf School and we are eager to return. The Waldorf School has a strong commitment to outdoor learning and you are sure to feel inspired in this beautiful space.
Our second location this summer is St. Francis of the Woods, in Coyle, OK the week of July 31-August 4, 2023! This is our first time visiting Oklahoma, but we are thrilled to work with St. Francis of the Woods and the Prairiewood Forest School. You can learn more about both of these programs here.
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.