Nature Based Learning Symposium 2022

About The Symposium

 This two-day symposium on August 30th and 31st 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 better understanding of nature-based learning benefits and practices along with resources and relationships that promote this philosophy.

Participants Will

  • Learn about nature based education as a means of meeting their students’ social and emotional needs
  • Build an understanding around how nature based learning can be used to meet content and character goals
  • Develop a framework for incorporating nature-based learning into their work
  • Create an action plan for implementing nature based learning

Join Us

Tickets are available through the event listing on our website. You can register for one day or both and come for as much of the symposium that fits your schedule.

Participant Agenda

Access a pdf version of the participant agenda.

Details for Participants

View the email sent to registered participants. Please come if you are considering it but have not registered.

August 30th 9am-4pm: Learn

The first day of the symposium includes nature immersion, a panel discussion, workshops, “un-conferencing” time, and opportunities to connect with participants.

8:30 – 9:00 Light breakfast and registration
9:00 – 9:20 Welcome and setting the stage
9:20 – 10:30 Nature immersion experience
10:30 – 10:45 Break
10:45 – 11:25 Panel discussion: The Value of Nature
11:25 – 12:00 Breakout discussion
12:00 – 1:00 Lunch break (bring your own)
1:00 – 2:00 Workshop sessions #1
2:00 – 2:15 Break
2:15 – 3:15 Workshop sessions #2
3:15 – 4:00 “Un-conferencing” – Participant driven conversations

August 30th 4pm-5pm: Connect

At the end of the first day, we will have a networking period that will give participants the opportunity to connect with organizations that engage in and support nature based learning. If you would like to register for just the networking hour or represent an organization that would like to share what you do with our nature based learning educator community click here

August 31st 9am-4pm: Act

The second day is an opportunity to develop action plans around several themes with experts and through proven processes.

8:30 – 9:00 Light breakfast and registration
9:00 – 12:00 Opening / action workshops
12:00 – 1:00 Lunch (bring your own)
1:00 – 2:00 “Un-conferencing” – Participant driven conversations
2:00 – 3:30 Action Planning Discussions: Making a nature based learning future happen
3:30 – 4:00 Closing / spirit read

Symposium Details

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?
  • How do we ensure nature based learning is equitable and culturally responsive?
For Educators (broadly defined)

This event is designed for educators of every kind who want to integrate nature based experiences and environments into their well being and/or teaching practices. We invite anyone who is interested to attend.

We Welcome All

We, the planning team firmly believe that the active inclusion of people from varying identities, backgrounds, and perspectives is essential to creating equitable access to holistic and affirming nature based learning experiences. Reach out to let us know how we can accomodate your needs.


COVID-19 Safety

This event will be outdoors and the risk of COVID-19 transmission is relatively low. Masks are optional and we expect anyone who has tested positive or has come in contact with anyone who has to stay home. We will offer a refund to anyone who needs to cancel due to COVID exposure.

Presented by Rochester Ecology Partners

Rochester Ecology Partners helps all people in the Rochester Region find nature where they live work and play. We do this through nature based learning and community building, particularly with young people.

About the Venue

Durand Eastman Park is one of Rochester’s magnificent parks and a perfect place to engage in activities that build a deeper connection with nature and each other.

The symposium will be held in and around the Magnolia shelter. To get there turn onto log cabin road from Lakeshore Boulevard and keep driving until you get to to the top of the hill.

We encourage car pooling. When you register you can select whether you would like or are offering a ride.

Durand Eastman Park Map

Google Maps Directions

Event Sustainability

Creating an event with a limited environmental impact and a positive impact on the community and economy are important to us.

  • Green Spark Solar is providing electricty generated by their mobile solar powered charging station.
  • Impact Earth is providing their services to limit the waste that enters landfills.
  • Participants are encouraged to bring their own water bottles, coffee mugs, and utensils. Stations for refill will be available.

Workshop Details

Nature Immersion - Aug 30

Deb Denome, Barbara Monsour, and Sharon Mattsson of Shimmering Light Farm will lead a guided nature immersion designed to engage the mind, body, and spirit.

Panel Discussion - August 30

The panel discussion will address the value of nature and its role in healing and health.

Moderator: Betsy Uekeritis, Inter-regional Environmental Educator (EE2), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation


  • Antonius Chess Jr., Natural Resource Educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension Monroe County
  • Scott Wager, Co-founder & CEO Expeditions of Empowerment
  • Susanna Guarino, MS, LMHC, Good Earth Counseling
  • Adeline Spallina Jones, Student, Walden Project
  • Ansley Jemison, Enrolled Citizen of the Allegany Seneca, and a member of the Wolf Clan, Cultural Liaison for Ganondagan State Historic Site
Workshop Sessions #1 - Aug 30

Participants will be able to choose one of the following workshops to participate in:

  • Healing Our Relationship with Mother Earth and Breaking the Colonial Mindset – Paola Betchart, Anti-Racism Educator, 540 WMain
  • Wilderness Survival Skill Share – Andy Corey, Educator, Honeoye Falls Lima Schools
  • Benefits of Outdoor Learning – A Student Perspective Audrey Putnam, Iris Snaith, Lulu Demallie, Students, Walden Academy
  • Connected Learning Ecosystem: Where else are your students learning? – Becca Lauzon, Cumming Nature Center
  • Meet the Superhero Soilmakers: Worms – Evan Lowenstein, 4-H Youth Educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension Monroe County
Workshop Sessions #2 - Aug 30

Participants will be able to choose one of hte following to participate in:

  • Why Nature Based Education Works. Self Determination Theory in Practice – Jennifer Green, Director, Amiko Learning Center
  • Greening Your School – Cathy Law, Retired Teacher
  • Walking with Joseph Cornell Field Games of Observation – DJ Kitzel, ELA and Wilderness Skills Teacher, Canandaigua Academic and Career Center
  • Introduction to Orienteering – Laurie Hunt, Rochester Orienteering Club
  • The Value of Theraputic Immersion Lindsay Cray, CEO and Clinician at Trybe Ecotherapy LLC
Action Workshops - Aug 31

These extended sessions are deigned to teach skills and be oriented towards action:

  • Facilitating Learning Through Storytelling – D’Lores Simmons, Gail Livingston, Gwen Glenn, Black Storytelling League of Rochester
  • Integrating Leave No Trace Principles into Learning With Young People – David Nichols, REI COOP
  • Sustainable Living and Education with Impact Earth: Composting, Home Assessment and Zero Waste Living, and Children’s Alternative Education – Abbi Rice, Education Manager, Impact Earth
  • Identification of Living Things: Fungus, Insects, Plants, and Birds  – David McCheyne, Rochester Area Mycological Association / Lindsay Cray, Trybe Ecotherapy
  • Nature Journaling as a multidisciplinary tool for inquiry, literacy, science, and more – Angela Cannon-Cruthers, Coordinator of Forest Schools and Nature Programs, RMSC Cumming Nature Center and Maureen Dunphy, Environmental Educator, Cumming Nature Center

Sponsors and Supporters

Green Spark Solar

Green Spark Solar has made it possible for this to be a solar powered event. With GreenSpark Solar, you can harness this clean, abundant energy to power your home for less than what you’re paying for electricity now.

Trybe Ecotherapy

Trybe provides mental health services using a combination of evidence-based, cognitive therapy and mindful awareness, strengthened through a connection with nature.

540 WMain

540 WMain serves as a virtual hub that brings people together. They engage our community through antiracist, accessible, and compelling digital and virtual content.

Impact Earth

Impact Earth’s mission is to reduce single-use consumption and divert materials from the landfill thorough: educaiton, access to products and services, and creation of policy and processes.

RMSC Cumming Nature Center

The Cumming Nature Center is a 900-acre environmental education facility owned by the Rochester Museum & Science Center in Naples, NY

Headwater Food Hub

To bring good food to the table, we work with partners across New York State and beyond to support a values-based supply chain.

Project Origin

The first nature based learning symposium was held on Septmeber 1, 2021. After a long and weary winter Kyra Stephenson and Chris Widmaier sat down under the trees of Durand Eastman park to imagine how more teachers might be exposed, and in turn expose their students to the power of nature based learning. Throughout the spring and summer of 2021 a working group of dedicated volunteers planned and put on a nature based leanring symposium for 50 educators. The success of this initative lead organizers to commit to a second symposium in 2022.


2021 Symposium Summary 

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