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Nature Based Learning Symposium

September 1, 2021 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Nature-Based Learning Symposium

Hosted by: Rochester Ecology Partners

Register on Eventbrite


The expansive power of nature as a source of respite, restoration, and connection is well known. Nature-based learning also provides opportunities to meet educational goals in meaningful and authentic ways. This one-day symposium will bring educators and their partners together to experience and learn about nature-based learning through engagement with the environment, relationship-building, discussion, and workshops. Participants will leave with a basic understanding of nature-based learning benefits and practices along with practical tools and resources that promote this philosophy.

Participants will

  • learn about nature-based education as a means of meeting their students’ social emotional needs by connecting them to themselves, their environment, and each other
  • build understanding around how nature-based learning can be used to meet educational goals around content and character
  • develop a framework for incorporating nature-based learning opportunities into their work with students

Date and Location

Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at Durand Eastman Park, Magnolia Shelter


$25.00 or whatever you are able to contribute. The goal is for this workshop to be available to all who would like to attend and we believe cost should be something we can adjust to accommodate everyone’s budget. All proceeds will be used for space, materials, compensation of organizers and presenters, and to support the work of the Rochester Ecology Partners.


Educators of young people in the Rochester area who want to integrate nature-based experiences and environments into their well being and/or teaching practices.

Guiding Questions:

  • What is nature-based learning and what are the benefits?
  • How does nature-based learning happen? 
  • What practices lead to the ability to observe deeply and cultivate inquiry?
  • How do we use nature to enhance teaching within our existing educational goals?

Why is this conference necessary?

COVID-19 has taken a significant toll on our community and the profound impact on educators and young people cannot be underestimated. The ripple effect of the unique trauma endured by educators during the pandemic is still being felt deeply throughout our community. Before we can engage with sound heart and mind in the upcoming school year we need to restore our sense of stability and wholeness.

Amidst the extraordinary challenges caused by the pandemic, the limits of our current educational model have been exposed. At the same time, opportunities for thinking creatively about how we meet the needs of students through education have blossomed.

Nature-based learning is gaining in popularity and has never been more important based on its ability to meet academic, social-emotional, and relationship-building needs of students and teachers as they face a return to school in the fall. There is a need to share best practices, resources, and alignments with other goals. Time and tools for building action plans are needed. 

What are we hoping to accomplish?

  • Learn to think differently about what teaching and learning can and should look like
  • Create new relationships between educators in a nature-based environment
  • Build awareness of methods for nature-based teaching and share its benefits 
  • Introduce teachers to resources for nature-based learning

Organizing Committee

  • Andy Webster – Program Designer and Lead Teacher, Walden Project New York
  • Betsy Uekeritis – Inter-regional Environmental Educator (EE2), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Chris Widmaier – Executive Director, Rochester Ecology Partners
  • Kara Miller – Educator, Rochester City School District
  • Kyra Stephenson – Living Environment and Middle School Science Teacher, New York 
  • State Master Teacher 
  • Lindsay Cray – CEO and Clinician at Trybe Ecotherapy LLC
  • Michael Boller – Associate Professor of Biology, Center for Sustainability Director, Sustainability Program Director, St. John Fisher College
  • Sara Oliveiri – Educator, Rochester City School District 

Symposium Schedule

8:30-9:00 Breakfast and Registration
9:00-9:10 Welcome & Setting Stage for Day
9:10-9:20 Body Systems Check-in
9:20 – 10:30 Nature Immersion Experience 
10:30-10:45 Break
10:45 – 11:25 Panel Discussion
11:25 – 12:00 Breakout discussions
12:00 – 1:00 Lunch Break
1:00 – 2:00 Workshop #1
2:00 – 2:15 Break
2:00 – 3:00 Workshop #2
3:00 – 3:15 Break
3:15 – 4:00 Action Planning / Unconferencing
4:00 – 5:00 Networking

For updates about this event and others like it please share your contact information with us.


September 1, 2021
9:00 am - 5:00 pm


Durand Eastman Park – Log Cabin
Log Cabin Rd
Rochester, NY 14617 United States
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