Kittery Community Center 
120 Rogers Road
Kittery, ME 03904

Driving Directions 


Peg Smeltz 
Antioch University New England 

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again. "It's simple," they say,
"and you, too, have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."

by Mary Oliver

Morning Workshops

The Pedagogy of Silence
Brandi Cartwright, Co-founder, Raintree School,
St. Louis, MO

Promoting Social and Emotional Intelligence Through Forest School
Jessica Labbe, Interim Director, Eyes of the World Discovery Center, Kittery, ME

Rhythms in the Woods
Judy Nielsen, Professional Drummer, Tai Chi Master and Fletcher Boote, Sound Artist, Yoga Teacher, Educator, Bath, ME

Raising Readers and Writers Outdoors? No Problem!
Anne Stires, Founder and Director, Juniper Hill School for Place-based Education, Alna, ME, Adjunct Faculty, Antioch University New England, Keene, NH

An Emergent Curriculum for All Seasons
Dawn Jenkins, Nature Immersion Specialist, South Berwick, ME

Gonna Get Myself Connected!
Liza Lowe, Director, Wild Roots Nature School, Adjunct Faculty, Antioch University New England, Chesterfield, NH

Afternoon Workshops

Building a Magical Bamboo Bower
Nancy Striniste, Director of EarlySpace, LLC, Landscape Designer and Early Childhood Educator, Washington, DC

One Classroom's Story of Weaving Magic
Robin Huntley and Sarah Schrader, First and Second Grade Teachers, Juniper Hill School for Place-based Education, Alna, ME

A Journey Through Sticky Mud
Faith Masterson and Amanda King, First Grade Teachers, Dondero Elementary School, Portsmouth, NH

Process Art in Nature for Children and Teachers
Brady Nickerson, Artist and Teacher, Edgecomb, ME

Montessori Outdoors
Kate Connelly, Director, and Nicole Gallagher, Teacher, Camp Ketcha Montessori Preschool, Scarborough, ME

Wild Play on the Man-made Playground
Yasmin Azel, Preschool Teacher, Breakwater School, Portland, ME


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Saturday, April 27, 2019
9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Kittery Community Center

In Bloom in Maine:

Promising Practices in Nature-based Early Childhood Education


Antioch University New England will host three  In Bloom conferences this spring.  The first, In Bloom in Vermont will be held on the third day of spring, March 23, 2019, at Academy Elementary School in Brattleboro. We're well aware there will not be much in bloom in March so, this year we've assigned an "in bloom in snow"  theme to the In Bloom in Vermont conference. We'll be focusing on how to work with children outdoors in winter.

This conference, In Bloom in Maine: Promising Practices in Nature-based Early Childhood Education brings us back back to Kittery, Maine to work with the vibrant nature-based early childhood educators there. We look forward to a lovely warm spring day to celebrate the end of Earth Week! This conference has always filled to capacity, so plan to register early. Online registration is fairly simple, as we are now doing workshop sign-ups at morning registration.

Our 2019 In Bloom season comes to fruition with our first foray to Amherst, Massachusetts. On June 8, 2019, The Hitchcock Center for the Envioronmen will host us for In Bloom in Western Mass. We are confident that the clematis, iris, peonies AND dandelions will all be in bloom!

In the past, In Bloom workshops have catered to teachers of children between the ages of 3 and 6, but children grow up, so we're catching up! This year our workshops are geared to preschool through third grade, so invite your elementary teacher colleagues.

Please do read through the conference brochure for the workshop descriptions and come prepared to make your selections while enjoying a cup of java (or tea). Registration will be open at 8:00 am to allow time.

Morning Keynote

Creating Outdoor Spaces that Connect Children to the Natural World
Nancy Striniste, Landscape Designer and Early Childhod Educator,
Director of EarlySpace, Washington, DC

Nature play can awaken children's senses, challenge their bodies, inspire their imaginations and build self-confidence. In order to grow up healthy and happy, children need abundant, unstructured time to play and explore in the natural world, but we know that today's children rarely have the opportunity to roam free outdoors. Bringing nature to the places where children spend their time is an answer.

Well-designed nature play spaces are inviting and endlessly engaging for children AND good for the planet. With rich, inspiring images from around the world, Nancy explains why and how to bring the beauty, adventure, and sustainability of nature play to backyards, schoolyards, churchyards, neighborhood parks, early childhood settings and more.


Nancy Striniste, founder and principal designer at EarlySpace, LLC, has a unique background as both a landscape designer and an early childhood educator. She has worked since the mid-80s with schools, childcare centers, municipalities and organizations to create sustainably designed natural play and learning spaces.

Ms. Striniste is the author of Nature Play at Home: Creating Outdoor Spaces that Connect Children to the Natural World. She is an adjunct faculty at Antioch University New England in their Nature-based Early Childhood Certificate program, serves on the Maryland Partnership for Children and Nature's Play Workgroup, and is on the leadership team of NoVA Outside.

Afternoon Keynote

Girls on the Edge of Wildlands
Brandi Cartwright, Director, Raintree School, St. Louis, MO

As girls lead increasingly online lives, their sense of self and the definitions they create to define themselves become more and more embedded with the reactions, response, and critiques from social media. There is a need for girls to integrate experiences in wildlands with the ways in which they define what it means to be human and what it means to be a girl. In her typical storytelling fashion, Brandi Cartwright explores the lives spent outdoors for girls and the creative, academic, and social-emotional value of wild nature experiences.

Brandi Cartwright has spent her professional career honing a progressive teaching style and philosophy congruent with her goal of acting as an agent of change in the education system. She has taught at the pre-kindergarten, middle school and secondary school levels. Brandi co-founded Raintree School in 2007 and continues to spread the message of empowerment-based learning approaches and the importance of learning in the wild.

     Structure of the Day

      Registration Opens:         8:00 am
      Opening Circle:                9:00 am
      Morning Keynote:             9:15 am
      Morning Workshops:      10:30 am
      Lunch:                         12:00 noon
      Afternoon Keynote:          1:00 pm
      Afternoon Workshops:     2:15 pm
      Closing Circle:                 3:50 pm

Registration Fees:

Working Professional: $125
Group Rate: $100
(per person/ group of 3 from
same school/organization)
AUNE Alumni – Co-sponsors: $75
AUNE & Educ. College Students $50