Coming Together

On November 1, 2018, 175 Upper Valley educators came together at Lake Morey to share their experiences doing place-based ecology education with children of all ages. The theme was, “Coming Together”. Here is what a few participants had to say about the day:

  • As always, I loved being with curious, dedicated, like-minded but diverse educators. It’s a fantastic “reboot” to the soul to be able to collaborate with others who share the importance of teaching the values of ecology, systems, and respectful living among humans and other species.”
  • This was a wonderful opportunity for folks to get together and do real meaningful work! It was inspiring and exciting!”
  • This was my first year attending the conference. It was exciting and inspiring. I walked away with a ‘backpack’ full of new resources and ideas!”

The day included workshops on topics ranging from early childhood nature play and learning to sustainability, ecological art, farm to school, music, composting, and more.

Our keynote speaker, Cheryl Charles, of the Children & Nature Network and Antioch University New England, inspired the group with learnings from her rich career committed to connecting children to the outdoors. The slides from her talk, “The Ecology of Hope,” can be found here.

A big thanks to all of you who joined us for the conference and helped create such a supportive atmosphere of learning. If you were not able to attend, please consider joining us next year.

Thursday, November 1, 2018
Lake Morey Resort, Fairlee, Vermont



Registration, coffee, and tea




Keynote- “Ecology of Hope” with Cheryl Charles, Ph.D.

Dr. Charles will draw on her decades of commitment and continuing work to connect children with nature in their everyday lives in this keynote address.  Grounded in research as well as experience, Cheryl provides a sense of purpose along with practical suggestions for action by all of us who are concerned about the nature of childhood, the health of communities and the future of the Earth.

Cheryl Charles, Ph.D., is an innovator, author, organizational executive, and educator. She is founding Executive Director of the Nature-Based Leadership Institute at Antioch University New England and the Co-Founder, President and CEO Emerita of the Children & Nature Network. Currently, she coordinates the Network’s international activities and participates as a member of the Science of Nature-Based Learning Collaborative Research Network, a major three-year project funded by the National Science Foundation.


Break for coffee and tea


9:45AM- 11:15AM

Breakout Session One


Our H-Cubed Program: Healthy Habits of Harmony and A Pathway to Sustainability Within Schools
Chance Lindsley & Kim Goode, Newbury Elementary School

H-Cubed fosters 2 things: a more sustainable and impactful approach to social emotional learning, utilizing the experiential learning cycle to deepen students’ awareness of self and others, & planning time & support for teachers to design place/project-based learning opportunities for students.


A Week in the Woods: Learning Beyond the Classroom
Janis Boulbol & Meg Hopkins, Sharon Elementary School

A Week in the Woods is a model for creating core routines and thematic integration for outdoor learning. Developing an engaging, consistent outdoor learning curriculum creates learners who are invested in their place, feel a deep connection to the land and want to sustain it for the future.


From the Big Scholars of the World to the Little Scholars of the Woods: Translating Early Childhood Research into Practice
Amy Powers, PEER Associates & Eliza Minucci, ForestKinder

A workshop for the head AND the hands. We’ll discuss practical findings from the latest research on nature play and learning, and then head outside where we’ll participate in activities and facilitation that promote the outcomes/benefits described in the research.


New Hampshire and Vermont Harvest of the Month: Using Food and Cooking as a Vehicle for Connections
Beth Roy, Vital Communities Upper Valley Farm to School Program

During this hands-on session you will be introduced to the resources of VT and NH Harvest of the Month. We will then get our hands dirty as we cook ourselves a tasty snack and investigate the connections we can make with our classroom learning, gardens, and communities.


Teaching with i-Tree
Judy Silverberg, New Hampshire Project Learning Tree & Susan Cox, USDA Forest Service

Explore hands-on activities developed by Project Learning Tree that help secondary students discover and analyze the ecosystem services that trees provide. Students input data they collect into the free i-tree design online tool that calculates the dollar value of the benefits provided by a tree.


A World Full of Wonder:  Connecting Young Children with Nature
Hannah Gelroth, VINS

A young child’s sense of wonder is both inspiring and heartening. Learn how to build on their inherent sense of curiosity as we explore the natural world through activities that get us outside, fostering empathy through nature play and discovery. This workshop includes time outside, rain or shine.


Ecological Mural & Public Art
Young Song, Lesley University

This presentation will discuss the River Mural Project, Massachusetts, USA. It addresses how the artists, students, and community members collaborated to carry out this mural project. It can serve as an example for other communities in addressing their environmental concerns through public art.


Shared Concepts in Ecology, Sustainability, and Music
Terry Wolkowicz & Carrie Hawthorn, New Bedford Symphony Orchestra

We will detail the benefits of concept-based arts curriculum to explore scientific concepts. Curriculum projects will be detailed including an exploration of balance in wetland ecosystems and music, and techniques used by composers that also serve as models to reduce plastic pollution.



Break for snacks, coffee, and tea



Panel Discussion: Creating a Culture of PBEE in our Schools

Join this facilitated discussion with several Upper Valley schools making PBEE part of their school community and culture. Hear their successes, challenges, and lessons learned along the way.



Local foods lunch



Breakout Session Two


Be Safe, Be Kind, Be Gentle: Powerful Components of Nature-based Play that Lead Toward the Creation of Peaceful Classrooms and Communities
Jen Brown & Joanne Pye, Four Winds Nature Institute

Wonder-filled outdoor play has countless benefits, including the creation of peaceful children. Through our own experiences and supporting teachers, we have identified components that lead to powerful and peaceful experiences. Let’s venture outside to consider how nature play and peace go together.


Nature Printing
Coleen O’Connell, Lesley University

Not a sketcher/artist?  Want to add Art to STEM to make STEAM? Want to spend creative time with others and produce beautiful artifacts.  First come, first serve.  This workshop is open to 10 people only.  Learn the basics of nature printing. Will take donations for materials at the workshop.


The Forest Day: A Rhythm for Nature-based Elementary Education
Eliza Minucci & Meg Teachout, Forest Kinder

Around New England public school teachers are embracing the Forest Day idea, taking students to a field or forest once a week, all day. Experience an abbreviated version of our tried and true outdoor routines. Leave with the confidence to take your students outside for joyful and meaningful learning.


Leveraging the Power of Collaboration for Better PBEE
Michael Duffin, PEER Associates & Emily Shipman, Wellborn Hub

Through extensive research on place-based ecology education, PEER Associates and the Upper Valley Teaching Place Collaborative are finding that among all of the factors that compose good PBEE, collaboration is key. Join us for a discussion of what the research is finding, what good collaboration looks like, and how we can make time for it in our busy schedules to ensure that our PBEE efforts are effective and lasting. Participants will come away with their own action plan for increased collaboration towards improved PBEE.


Bring Valley Quest to Your Classroom
Lauren Griswold, Vital Communities

Questing 101: Discover the magic, fun, and depth behind Valley Quest, and learn how to integrate the 20 year old program’s research-rich treasure hunts into your curriculum. Sense of place, connection to rural heritage, and respect for the natural world await!


Building Resilience with Cross-cutting Compost Curriculum
Cat Buxton, Grow More Waste Less & Soil Carbon Coalition

The Thetford Elementary School compost system engages students in real world problem solving: reducing waste, building healthy soil, managing storm water and understanding how soil health affects landscape function and overall ecosystem health. Data students collect is the base for cross-cutting PBE, adaptable for K – 12.


The Ties That Bind Us: Re-Connecting Rivers
Dan ‘Rudi’ Ruddell & Greg Russ, White River Partnership

Join us for a walk and discussion of the current connectivity of rivers and the communities tied to them, key to understanding a path toward greater resilience and community health.


Arctic Wednesdays: Professional Development for Teachers in Extreme Weather & Climate
William Broussard & Brian Fitzgerald, Mt. Washington Observatory

Mount Washington Observatory’s 2018 program introduced pre-College teachers to weather observation in the “Home of the World’s Worst Weather.” We’ll discuss program highlights, pre-and post-program activities, and strategies for successful implementation of real-world climate data in the classroom.



Break for coffee and tea



Open Space



Raffle, and closing announcements





Field Trips

Participants will depart Lake Morey Resort at 3PM and return by 6PM for dinner, a movie, and s’mores. Transportation will not be provided. We encourage carpooling and caravanning.


Forest Classroom
Hosted by Eliza Minucci, ForestKinder
Around New England, public school teachers are embracing the Forest Day idea, taking students to a field or forest once a week, all day. Visit the outdoor classroom at a local public school with experienced outdoor educator and co-founder of ForestKinder, Eliza Minucci. Participants will discuss the components of a great outdoor classroom and take part in some fun outdoor routines.


Reconnecting to our Waterways
Hosted by Dan ‘Rudi’ Ruddell, White River Partnership
Many of our biggest challenges (and opportunities!), especially with a changing climate, stem from rivers and streams that are no longer fully connected to their surrounding landscape and communities. A walk along a wooded stream—and a visit to a waterfall!—gives us a chance to dive deeper into what it means to reconnect, and how many different levels that can happen at. We’ll enjoy a short hike along a portion of the Cross Rivendell Trail and Glens Falls Brook on the Fairlee Town Forest.


A Model School Compost Program
Hosted by Cat Buxton, Grow More Waste Less & Thetford Elementary School
The Thetford Elementary School compost system engages students in real world problem solving: reducing waste, building healthy soil, managing storm water and understanding how soil health affects landscape function and overall ecosystem health. Visit Thetford Elementary School and learn how they have developed a robust and sustainable composting program that has become well-known across the Upper Valley.