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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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Early in our first week back from winter break, a Kindergartner came to me with wide eyed excitement. "Lindie, come and see." At the time I was in the middle of unsticking and helping to zip a zipper. "Can you tell me?" I asked. "You have to see!" came the reply. "Is it alive?" I queried, as I finished the task at hand, and we headed toward the entrance to the tunnel that runs through our playground hill. "It's not now," the Kindergarten stated gravely. Two friends were waiting at the end of the tunnel, carefully examining something on the ground. As I came closer, I could see it was furry and immobile. It was a gray mole, now frozen on the mulch. "It's a mouse," one Kindergartner announced. "Let's look at it closely," I suggested. One child went to get some sand scoops to aid in handling the creature. When we turned it over onto its back, there were its two large front paws, much like the sand scoops and many times bigger than its tiny back feet. Its nose was pointed. I showed the children how large a mouse would be compared to this creature, and we talked about why its front feet were so large. Having had it identified as a mole, the children spent some time guessing why it had died. Many children thought it had frozen to death, and it was frozen. I shared that moles don't naturally spend time above ground. Some children supposed a predator had gotten the mole, but then been frightened away. One Kindergartner wanted the mole to have a proper burial, but with the ground frozen, we gave it a forest burial instead. The children decided to put the mole at the woods at the edge of the YG and OG outdoor classroom. The child who felt most strongly about burying the mole, carefully piled leaves over its body. "An animal might eat it," one child suggested. Yes, we all agreed that might happen. It's part of a forest burial. A few minutes later, the children announced they had found the mole's hole on top of tunnel hill. As we looked at the hole, which was not very large or deep and had none of the tell tale dirt a mole hole would have piled around it, I spotted the beginning of a mole highway of tunnels, starting just beyond the tunnel. I showed the children, and a few of them followed the tunnels to the edge of the boundaries of the playground. It was a brief interlude in our day, but one that really drew in this group, and showed me once again how being outdoors in nature is the best way for young scientists to learn.


Find out more about The Antioch School here!

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