There is something uniquely energizing about bringing together educators from all different schools, backgrounds, and disciplines. The ideas flow, the excitement is palpable, and the optimism is high. The last two days of August, Rochester Ecology Partners brought together almost 150 teachers from around the region to explore new and innovative approaches to teaching rooted in nature-based learning.
Our symposium began on an overcast day that quickly became one of the rainiest days of the summer! Despite the unrelenting deluge – or maybe due to it – educators were gathered beneath the various pavilions animatedly discussing new ideas and resources to help bring nature into the classroom and the class out into nature. There were conversations about the social and emotional benefits of forest immersion, the crucial role of worms in our ecosystem, how to create your own outdoor classroom, and exploring our connections with mother earth. Students spoke on the benefits they personally experienced when learning outside rather than in, and the powerful impact nature-based education had on their own educational experience. Despite the rain, the energy was high, and the ideas were flowing!
The second day we woke up to abundant sunshine and a cool breeze. Perfect weather for learning amongst the tall trees of Durand Eastman Park. We were thrilled to be joined by the faculty of RCSD Anna Douglas Murray Academy #12, a school we are embarking on a nature-based learning integration with this school year. They added a lively influx of energy and good humor to our already amazing group of educators. Our workshops today were longer and designed to help educators build a toolbox of nature-based learning skills. We spent time in the woods focused on plant, bird and fungi identification, learned more about utilizing nature journaling as an interdisciplinary tool, principles related to zero waste living and leave no trace, and how storytelling can draw students in and help them see things in a new way. We helped create space for participants to deeply explore new concepts, and an action plan for a nature-based future. Educators set their sights on creating impactful lessons, tools, and resources to make nature-based learning a part of the everyday experience and help create the next generation of concerned citizens, decision makers, and leaders who understand the value of nature.
Thank you to everyone who helped create another successful Nature Based Learning Symposium! We can’t wait to see what you all learn and discover this year and we hope to see you at the next one on August 29 and 30, 2023.
Symposium Sponsors and Supporters
- Green Spark Solar
- Trybe Ecotherapy
- 540 WMain
- Impact Earth
- RMSC Cumming Nature Center
- Shimmering Light Farm
- Amiko Learning Center
- Cornell Cooperative Extension Monroe County
- Rochester Orienteering Club
- Expeditions of Empowerment
- REI Coop
- Black Storytelling League of Rochester
- Rochester Area Mycological Association
- Kindess Champions
- American Dairy Association North East
- Green Visions
- Good Earth Counseling
- Netsins Ice Cream
- Walden Project
- Hippocampo books