A team of educators committed to providing Upper Valley students with the resources they need to thrive during COVID19 have successfully launched the Naturalist Backpack Project. Thanks to Eliza Minnucci (ForestKinder.org), Becky Proulx (Outdoor Educator from Strafford, VT), Kat Robbins (Place-based Education Coordinator at Woodstock Union Middle/High School), and Dawn Dextraze (Education and Outreach Specialist with Sullivan County Conservation District and Natural Resources Dept), with funding from the Wellborn Ecology Fund and The Byrne Foundation, naturalist backpacks have been distributed to 1,000 Upper Valley students! 

These backpacks, for elementary students, provide each individual with their own set of naturalist tools. Students that have received the backpacks are being taught to use the tools, as well as being given routines that take advantage of the tools to build academic skills and habits. If COVID19 requires another period of learning at home, the backpacks will go with students, and the science, math and literacy connected routines can continue at home without interruption.

Teacher support began with an online training, and there is a growing set of lessons and activities that is currently being developed.

1,000 Upper Valley elementary students have received these backpacks, and are enjoying the safe and mental-health-supportive nature-based learning that the tools have inspired. May the journey continue!

Click here to view the Naturalist Backpack lessons (under construction)