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  • Writer's pictureMeredith Florkey

ONbECE Newsletter 8-July 24, 2023

Ohio’s Nature-Based Early Childhood Education Collaborative

Summer News 2023


We met at an all members meeting via zoom right before the annual Natural Start conference on July 24. Here is the slideshow if you would like to read up on what’s happening and get involved. Preview attachment 2023 Annual Meeting. We are always accepting new members, so get started today! It’s going to be a great year!

WELCOME new members Sarah Zinn and Carol Juergemeier to the ONbECE leadership team!

Leaders commit to serving a 2 year minimum. We are so excited to enhance our roles in training and regional coordination through their involvement.

JOIN US! Upcoming ONbECE Gatherings

Our next ONbECE Southwest Regional Meet Up will be hosted by Lee & Jason Hamzy at Little Schoolhouse in the Woods on September 16! Please share with your people! It’s a great opportunity to connect with other NBL educators and start off the year together strong.

GET CONNECTED with our Partnered Agencies

Did you miss the Natural Start 2023 conference and are interested in being part of a growing professional network and advocacy for Nature Based Learning, not only in Ohio, but nationally? Get informed and plan on attendance in July 2024.

Share some stories or pictures of connection and inspiration if you are an Ohio resident and attended this year’s online conference by emailing

Upcoming Professional Development

The new online program at Cincinnati was announced at the OAEYC conference in April 2023.

Ohio Naturally

New workshops are now being scheduled! We will come to your center to deliver Ohio Approved workshops! Obtaining these credits in your own center together where we can interact with your outdoor spaces create practical place-based connection with the nature in your own space.

Arlitt Professional Educator Learning Series, STEM in the PlayScape Learning

Modules. CEU credits: free, for Ohio Approved Hours contact Rachel Konerman


*SAVE THE DATE* The Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children (OAEYC) conference April 24-27, 2024 will again be located at Kalahari in Sandusky, Ohio.

At the 2024 OAEYC conference we are excited to highlight more Nature-based Learning! We plan to have some ONbECE membership presence at the conference and a Lake Erie shores & Island North Central meetup on Sunday April 28th, tour times and locations TBD. Join our membership email list to keep updated on postings. You won’t want to miss this weekend gathering of ECE and NBL professional development and networking.

Nature-Based Learning & Environmental Education RESOURCES

FREE Environment Education resources available for your programs and classrooms!


Announcing a new nature play program at Learning Tree Farm called Farm Explorers!

This program is geared toward 3-11 year olds but all are welcome! We’ll have the incredible gift of hands-on experiences in the woods, garden, nature playscape, and barns! The class

starts THIS WEEK and is Wednesdays from 10:30 am to noon. You are welcome to pack a

picnic and stay to explore after class. Please feel free to share with anyone interested in the

program and reach out to with any questions or

For those in the Dayton area, Ohio Naturally is partnering with host Open Air Village for their third seasonal meet up for nature-based educators, environmental educators, and 'inside' teachers who are curious! This free event features networking, a skill share for make and take, a tour of a local nature-based program, and resource share out. Gather 'round!

Leadership Team member, Michelle Bock attended the OAEYC conference in April 2023 and had this to say:

OAEYC 2023 conference at Kalahari in Sandusky Ohio was good.

This was a very interesting conversation starter at the conference when it comes to being informed and aware of the Early childhood career with advocating for quality child care options and compensation as well as providing quality Early learning standards in a time where all families are struggling to find it and all professionals are struggling to keep up with demands and perceptions. Take aways! -Need to advocate child care options -Transformative change requirements & shifting mental models -Rethink core shifts * so where does Nature-Based [education] living fit in?


Fourteen Ohioans Presented with ODNR’s Top Conservation Honors

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohioans who have dedicated their lives to the conservation and preservation of Ohio’s natural resources received top honors Wednesday from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Family, friends, and fairgoers watched as Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, ODNR Director Mary Mertz, and other ODNR officials inducted seven people into the Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame and awarded seven others with ODNR’s Cardinal Award. “This is an outstanding group of dedicated Ohioans who have truly made conservation their life mission,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “We are proud to recognize them with these high honors, as we hope their passion and major achievements will inspire future generations to help the state’s natural wonders soar to new heights.”

The Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame has a long legacy in the state of Ohio. The award was created in 1966 to celebrate individuals who have made significant contributions to protecting Ohio’s natural resources. With today’s inductions, the number of people presented with this honor is 193.

The Cardinal Award

In addition to the Hall of Fame inductions, ODNR also presented the Cardinal Award to seven Ohioans. The Cardinal Award, created in 1971, honors individuals and organizations that demonstrate exceptional awareness and concern for ideals reflected in the department’s mission statement: To ensure a balance between the wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all.

Cardinal Award recipients have included outdoor writers, educators, farmers, biologists, naturalists, businesses, sporting organizations, and volunteers across the state of Ohio.

Brenda Metcalf

As the Environmental Education Council of Ohio’s Executive Director for the past 20 years, Brenda Metcalf has never stopped moving environmental education in Ohio forward. Metcalf has developed quality relationships with the Ohio EPA through their Partnership Grant that supports the Environmental Careers Program.

This program reaches thousands of Ohio students with career messages and resources, connects them with professionals in the environmental fields, and provides materials to support exploration of those potential career paths. In addition, Metcalf’s partnership with the Ohio Department of Education helped foster the Ohio Environmental Literacy Plan in 2012- one of the first in the country. This plan outlines all the key benchmarks that Ohio students and adults should achieve to become educated, connected stewards of Ohio’s environment.

Finally, Metcalf has fostered a long-term positive relationship with ODNR through her constant support of Project WILD, Project Learning Tree, and other initiatives. She has a long partnership with the Ohio Division of Wildlife through a grant to support high school research on wildlife and their habitats, support of the Ohio Student Wildlife Research Symposium, through the EECO regional director networks that regularly host Project WILD workshops, and the promotion of our resources and materials through her outreach efforts into classrooms and conference displays.


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