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Here are some takeaways from some of the ONbECE members who attended the Natural Start 2022 Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio July 27-30. Do you want to add your thoughts? Comment in a reply to all!


Carol:

Sue Elliott and Vicki Carr session: Is DAP Moving Us Toward Global Sustainability? I am still hearing Sue Elliott’s call that early childhood education become “a transformative and empowering process actively engaged in by children, families and educators who share an ecocentric view.” It is our ethical and moral obligation to educate for sustainability. A way to accomplish this is by allowing children to be active agents with rights. And that the research shows that “even for children to get outside once a week can develop these experiences.”

I attended the follow up session of Early Childhood Education for Sustainability which gave a variety of new models to support alternative ways of viewing children and nature. Children need the truth because they see and know the truth. We need to support and empower them to act on that truth and make a change.

I appreciated the balance of being able to not only attend sessions which challenged my pedagogical thinking, but also sessions which allowed me to bring back new, hands-on tools and activities! I am excited to start milkweed plants, utilize the new Project Learning Tree Trees & Me curriculum and add some fun new animal tracks activities to my tool bag.

Other challenges I left with are to keep asking how to make my program more inclusive and diverse and outside of the 3–5-year-olds how can we push nature-based experiences down to include birth -3 and up into the elementary grades and higher.


Meredith:

I am widening my view of sustainability in ECE as well. I will be examining my own thought regarding language and teachings about climate change and providing staff, families, and children agency to combat this issue that will most significantly impact our children.

My biggest take-away is that our field of NbECE continues to be concerned about the lack of diversity and equity in our programming, but is not able to identify with the larger context of childcare in the United States, both the fact that we are in fact childcare, the history of the distinction between daycare and early education in our county and its systemic racial split. Folks were happy to celebrate congress voting to combat climate change with dollars, but were silent about the absence of addressing childcare in our country.

I am grateful for the networking opportunities of this in person event and we were able to connect with other programs who were not in our network such as the Kent State Child Development Center, the Columbus Academy, and TimberTops Dayhome among others. There was also a representative from my resource and referral agency 4C for children-which was really cool-I’ll be calling him!

Lastly, I loved hearing about the rad ladies from University of Delaware lab school and their reciprocal partnership with a local inner city Head Start. As I try to push comfort and excitement about nature-based education into public and more ‘academic/mainstream’ schools, their experiences were super valuable.


Rachel:

Ditto on Meredith’s point about Congress. No amount of money for the economy or climate being passed will have the long term effects we need if our children don’t have access to high quality Early Childhood Care and Education (nature based or not) and our field will never be sustainable if our teachers aren’t making a living wage. If we want to expand access to nature based education, we need to figure out ways to diversify the funding streams (ie, accept public funds, Head Start, etc) we use to run our centers. This loops right back to the issue that we need significant investments in the childcare infrastructure at a federal level.

I continue to be interested in the overlaps between ECEfS/NBE and Reggio Inspired Practices, which I found many examples of, even those that were not explicitly made.

I found Christy Merrick’s request for evidence interesting also. I’m curious as to what kind of evidence they are looking for…what role can research play?


Jason:

I had a lot of fun showing off some of our familiar stomping grounds by leading the Mt. Airy Forest hike with Lee. She did a great job planning and scoping out parking for that enormous bus! It was nice to see so many people who were familiar with us, as well as beginning to run into folks we have met in previous trainings and related regional networking events.

My big takeaways were some excellent strategies for conversations with children about some of the harsh realities of climate change and human impacts on the environment, including positive actions we can all take to better the world around us. I also felt validated with the recognition of the social, emotional and physical differences in children since the pandemic hit and shifted so much of our lives.

The biggest inspiration for me personally was the absolute importance of what we do. These children will grow up and help make the world a better place, and I believe that positive change will be amplified over generations. What was missing from the conference? More stories and songs (I had to miss the one class that had songs, etc).


Eppie -

Wow! What an amazing time I had reconnecting with like minded educators as well as making so many new connections and relationships! My eyes have been open to so much more in regards to nature based education and I have so many more questions about how I will be able to help get EVERY CHILD outside!

I know this may sound crazy but my biggest “aha” moment was when someone said (I can’t remember who, I’m sorry), something to the effect that “it is important to remember we (humans) are not just part of nature but we ARE nature”! Yes we are! I have always believed this in my own way but something in the way this person said it really shifted my thinking!


My biggest highlight of the week by far was visiting the three sights in Cincinnati. The Arlitt Child Development Center, part of the University of Cincinnati, taught me that some universities run early childhood programs partnered with faculty and also collect research. I am very excited by this concept! I have already reached out to Kent, in my neck of the woods, and am eager to learn more about their program and possible ways I may be able to be involved in this effort in the future!

Once home from Cincinnati, I hit the ground running with leading nature camps for elementary students immediately that Monday. While exploring and playing with my campers, I tried to take time to “digest” more of what I learned. I’m excited that at camp tomorrow (Wednesday, Aug. 10) we will be learning all about animal tracks. I am so grateful to Patty Bailey and Leann Fish from the University of Maine for leading the Three P’s for Tracking workshop. I will be playing their shoe pattern/match game and having campers create stories about the tracks we will find walking in Poutasse Woods and along Euclid Creek! Then on Friday we will make pine needle tea over a campfire - another new skill I learned from Lori Ann Wilde in her workshop Embracing the Forest’s Gifts in Forest School! My gratitude runs over and I can’t wait for us to all be together again!





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Ohio Nature-Based Early Childhood Education Collaborative

The leadership team just had their second virtual zoom meeting of this year, 5 of 6 members were present. The meeting is run by Matriarchal Leadership. We are sorry to lose Bev but wish her the best of luck and want to congratulate her as she focuses on her new position as Outdoor Experiences Manager with Lorain County Metro Parks.


Roster of ONbECE leadership team members Check out these dedicated ladies bio and photo on our website!



March 8th 2022 Notes

Continued revising and forming our collaborative’s mission and vision statements


Leadership team discussed picked desired roles of interest and personal strengths:

1 Meredith Florkey-Website Manager

2 Rachel Konerman-Meeting Organizer

3 Michelle Bock-Communicator to membership

4 Lee Hamzy-Partner coordinator

5 Eppie Miller-Recorder

6 Sheila Torio-TBA


We discussed Land acknowledgements, to learn more https://gcnativeamericancoalition.com


Team decisions will be made by coming to a group consensus, taking the time necessary for full conversation and consideration.


Next Leadership Team meeting May 9th 7:30-9


Network News!


EECO Conference March 31-April 3 http://eeco-online.org/event-4667330





April 12th Ohio approved Train the Trainer 7-8:30 $10

possible side hustle and registration is still available!


Meredith Florkey from Ohio Naturally LLC and the wonderful staff at Child Care Choices are co-sponsoring a Train the Trainer ONLINE event. If you are interested in attending, please contact Meredith at meredith@ohionaturallyeducation.com. Once we have a group of folks, we will schedule around them. There will likely be a small fee of less than $10 to reimburse Childcare Choices for their time.

Goals of this event are to:

  • Help experienced nature-based ECE educators create meaningful training for both nature-based folks and mainstream educators.

  • Help navigate the OCCRRA and required Early Learning and Development Standards

  • Practice organizing and delivering training to increase the quality of nature-based opportunities when we need to attend PD.

  • Create collectively a set of Ohio Approved Trainings that our group can refer regional and state folks to.

  • Provide a small income source for our members.

  • Increase networking with Resource and Referral agencies, OAEYC, and child care centers/directors around the state.


OAEYC Conference April 27-30 https://www.oaeyc.org/conference


Natural Start 2022 Conference July 27-30 is hosted in our HOME state! Stay tuned for the Ohio regional meeting date TBD and dinner meet up..

https://www.ohionaturebasededucation.com/events/natural-start-2022-conference-in-person-and-virtual .pdf


"Does your nature-based program have upcoming available positions?” We have a job posting tab on our website! We get several Ohio field job inquiries! Send Meredith Florkey the following at: meredith@ohionaturallyeducation.com

1) The title of your school

2) Location (city)

3) Link to your website

4) Job description (making sure there is a contact included)

Send your challenge and success stories/pictures of nature based outdoor learning in spring! Ohionaturebasedece@gmail.com,

Please fill out this quick form to get on the main email list


Thanks to Michelle Bock for writing and creating this document.



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Introduction

Welcome to the Ohio Nature Based Early Childhood Education Collaborative's first newsletter!" First, a little background for those who may be newer:

Carol Juergemeier, Bev Walborn, Cheryl Ryan, Jeni Hoover and others met at the 2018 Natural Start Conference, found they were all from Ohio and created the Facebook Group to start gathering like minded people from our area. About the same time, Lee Hamzy in Cincinnati started to gather nature-based educators at the program she runs with husband Jason. Shortly after that, Brukner Nature Center hosted an ERAFANS retreat where the two regions could converge. More and more people started converging and it seemed as if we had enough content to start collecting names and emails into a list and create a website. Meredith Florkey, from Dayton, was in need of a project for a leadership cohort with the Partners for the Environment, and the website and some coordinated communication began. With growing need and requests of nature programs in ECE and an Ohio roundtable discussion at the Natural Start 2020 virtual conference, our group began to see the need for a more formal structure and continuity. Our current membership consists of 68 nature enthusiasts, professionals, and educators! A group of seven folks working in and toward nature-based education replied to the interest survey this summer to serve as a leadership team for the Ohio Nature-Based ECE Collaborative. Thank you to those who volunteered to serve!


Roster of ONbECE leadership team members You can find out more about these folks on our website!


Michele Bock, Ohio certified Environmental Educator Sandusky Head Start preschool teacher sewnatural@gmail.com

Meredith Florkey, Ohio Naturally LLC meredith@ohionaturallyeducation.com

Lee Hamzy Little Schoolhouse in the Woods, littleschoolhouseinthewoods@gmail.com

Rachel Konerman, University of Cincinnati: Early Childhood Education Teacher Prep Program and Arlitt Center, rachel.konerman@uc.edu

Eppie Miller Mandel Jewish Day School, Beachwood, OH, eppiemiller@sbcglobal.net

Sheila Torio, Educator in central Ohio, sheilatorio@outlook.com

Bev Walborn, Lorain County Metro Parks, bwalborn@loraincountymetroparks.com



2021 Happenings

*Partnerships: EECO, Inside Outside, Miami Valley Leave No Child Inside

*EECO Annual Spring Conference presence

*Natural Start Summer Conference presence, OH Regional Roundtable survey

*NE Ohio Meetups! THANK YOU…

Chiara from Kismet Kinders One Room Schoolhouse

Erica and Jen from Rocky River Cleveland MP Nature Preschool, Johnna from Rooted in Nature, LLC, Bev from Lorain Metroparks, Carlisle Reservation and Shoepfle’s Children Garden for the warm welcome. A big thanks to Bev for coordinating this event and to Ohio Naturally for providing a farm grown lunch!



Our leadership team has begun to analyze survey results from YOU, sent out in July. These topics will be discussed and we will build our actions beginning here with frequent requests for input from YOU in the future! Your voice matters!



Organizational Structure Definitions, Roles, Responsibilities

a. Share the workload across enough people that none of us will be too overwhelmed. c. be clear about what we are and what we are not. Don’t duplicate work. d. recognizing and naming where we intersect in EE and Mainstream education. Define our field. x. annual newsletter/bi monthly board zoom/quarterly member zoom z. divide and conquer board volunteers similar to EECO divisions and operate similar or mirror like ways just for a younger ECE audience

Vision, Mission, Philosophy/Values, Goals

b. focus on the priorities of practitioners and elevating the voices of people doing the work in the field (and forest :) )

e. Work with partners in both genres to increase the capacity of nature-based education. (see also “Relationships”)

f. Work with EE partners to recognize the specific DAP needed with the ECE population. g. Work with mainstream educators to increase nature time. h. Recognize the reality that not ALL students can attend nature-preschools; Support capacity building in NbECE programs that accept publicly funded children, support other ECE programs around nature experiences, child-led in all settings. k. Generally work to swing the pendulum back to a more natural way of educating, living, differentiating instruction and diversifying the field. (see also, “Advocacy”) n. attend training that informs my work and pushes me to learn more and be a better teacher-aren’t the same old ECE stuff.

t. collective voice of nature based ece to promote, support and lead in areas of increasing access to safe places to learn in/with natural spaces and materials, r. Seeking alternative licensure and certifications for outdoor early education programs and educators. (see also, “Advocacy”)

u. professional development opportunities to support and guide teaching in/with natural spaces/materialsRelationships/ Partnershipse. Work with partners in both genres to increase the capacity of nature-based education. (see also “Vision, Mission, Philosophy…”)

o. I want to connect regularly with friends in the field and experience connection to nature with people who GET IT.

Socialization

s. to have a stronger collaborative

w. NB Teacher training and certification at EHOVE and Firelands BGSU y. connections with Ohio Department of Health, metro parks, and Soil Water Conservation Districts, and Friends of Old Woman Creek State NERRAdvocacy

i. Have a national presence in conversations and movements. j. Legitimize to stakeholders around the state the quality and JOY in NbECE (OAEYC, ODJFS, ODE). k. Generally work to swing the pendulum back to a more natural way of educating, living, differentiating instruction and diversifying the field. (see also, “Vision, Mission…”) l. Identifying and executing ways to diversify our workforce. m. Increase wages in NbECE to align with other public institutions. p. Licensure for natural outdoor family childcare q. start thinking about language for proposals to incorporate nature-based ideas/standards into Ohio's program licensing, SUTQ, and Ohio Early Learning Standards. r. Seeking alternative licensure and certifications for outdoor early education programs and educators. (see also, “Vision, Mission…”)

v. licensure advocacy both w/in current ODJFS/ODE guidelines and perhaps in parallel look to amend or create new guidelines for outdoor programs


Network News!


In the fall of 2021, we came together in a leadership team and discussed HOW our group should function. Taking the lead from other groups, who have embraced a “power with and for” as opposed to a traditional/western “power over” structure, our group has agreed to a more matrilineal leadership structure where labor is clearly divided, supported by all and we strive for consensus building. As many of us break away from traditional education models, our leadership team felt drawn to a more team centered method of collective work. This winter, we are working on updating our vision and mission statement to reflect this way of leading.

At our March meeting, we’ll be firming up roles and responsibilities so that there are clear “go-to” people for the larger collaborative membership. Our leadership group has committed to communicating with YOU, the ONbECE Collaborative, consistently via email and Facebook after each meeting (Jan, March, May, July, Sept, Nov) with a brief overview or newsletter. We look forward to in person meetings, especially at July’s Natural Start conference in Cincinnati! We plan to keep the July meeting as a whole group collaborative event and also hope to support regional meet ups when they make sense. Groups in Ohio are planning tours, so stay tuned.


Train the Trainer

Meredith Florkey from Ohio Naturally LLC and the wonderful staff at Child Care Choices are co-sponsoring a Train the Trainer ONLINE event. If you are interested in attending, please contact Meredith at meredith@ohionaturallyeducation.com. Once we have a group of folks, we will schedule around them. There will likely be a small fee of less than $10 to reimburse Childcare Choices for their time.

Goals of this event are to:

  • Help experienced nature-based ECE educators create meaningful training for both nature-based folks and mainstream educators.

  • Help navigate the OCCRRA and required Early Learning and Development Standards

  • Practice organizing and delivering training to increase the quality of nature-based opportunities when we need to attend PD.

  • Create collectively a set of Ohio Approved Trainings that our group can refer regional and state folks to.

  • Provide a small income source for our members.

  • Increase networking with Resource and Referral agencies, OAEYC, and child care centers/directors around the state.


Save the Date for Summer July 27-30! The Natural Start 2022 Conference is hosted in our HOME state!

https://www.ohionaturebasededucation.com/events/natural-start-2022-conference-in-person-and-virtual .pdf


Article to share out that the leadership team found helpful.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5b3e29c94cde7a0c2491e28e/t/5d372828b262d1000188653c/1563895850739/Sorting+out+the+terms+and+concepts+within+nature.pdf


January Natural Start-Here was a great event to join. Keep in mind for 2023! https://mailchi.mp/naturalstart/winter-event-natstart2021?fbclid=IwAR2jJPReHqxzHffaY9KLbRLxs5yNFhwEZ1mwMlyM_36eTBhYLIWKQuqK42M

Check https://willamettepartnership.org/rebuild-our-childcare-systems/


"Does your nature-based program have upcoming available positions?” We have a job posting tab on our website! We get several Ohio field job inquiries! Send Meredith Florkey the following at: meredith@ohionaturallyeducation.com

1) The title of your school

2) Location (city)

3) Link to your website

4) Job description (making sure there is a contact included)

Send your challenge and success stories/pictures of nature based outdoor learning in winter! Ohionaturebasedece@gmail.com,

Please fill out this quick form to get on the main email list

Thanks to Michelle Bock for writing and creating this document.




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