The Hitchcock Center for the Environment
845 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002

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

Children and Nature: Design Principles for Educators
David Sobel, Antioch University New England, Keene, NH

Math Under the Maples
Hannah Lindner-Finlay, Kindergarten Teacher, Putney Grammar School, Putney, VT

Less Screen Time, More Green Time
Meg Taylor, Director, Educator and Consultant, 
Field and Forest Education Services

Little Explorers
Amy Jackson, The Center School, Greenfield, MA

Cultivating Problem-Solvers: Service- Learning Outdoors
Talia Miller, Service Learning Coordinator, Colrain Central School, Colrain, MA

School Days to Forest Days: Routines in the Wild 
Eliza Minnucci, Adjunct Faculty, Antioch University New England, Keene, NH
Meg Teachout, 

Afternoon Workshops

Start small or GO BIG
Sheila Williams Ridge, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

Tracking Ticks
Robin Huntley, The Hitchcock Center for the Environment, Amherst, MA

Integrating the School Garden into the Early Childhood Curriculum
Jean Meister and Jenny Coy, The Common School, Amherst, MA

I Wonder as I Wander
Colleen Kelley, The Hitchcock Center for the Environment, Amherst, MA

A Garden to Dye For
Michelle Parrish, The Common School, Amherst, MA

The Farm and Forest Are Our Teachers
Rachel Kennedy, The Hartsbrook School, Hadley, MA

Movement and Music in Nature
Jayme Timpson Winell, The Common School, Amherst, MA


              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


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Saturday, June 8, 2019
9:00 am – 4:00 pm

The Hitchcock Center for the Environment
845 West Street, Amherst, MA

In Bloom in Western Mass:

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.

Our second 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 this conference, our first foray to Amherst, Massachusetts. On June 8, 2019, The Hitchcock Center for the Environment 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

Equity, Diversity, Anti-bias, and Inclusive Nature-based Learning

Sheila Williams Ridge, University of Minnesota
As studies continue to point to the benefits of time outdoors and nature education, making these accessible to all children, in a variety of settings, is of growing importance. It is equally important for the future of the environment that all citizens have a deep bond of stewardship with nature. Sheila will discuss the challenges and barriers faced by program staff who want to increase diversity. She will share what an equitable and inclusive environment looks like in the classroom and consider equity in terms of staff and school community. Sheila will focus on anti-bias education and implicit bias training for staff to prepare them to create an equitable environment.

Sheila Williams Ridge directs the Shirley G. Moore Lab School at the University of Minnesota and is an instructor for the Institute of Child Development. She is also an adjunct instructor at Hamline University. Sheila holds a BA in biology from the University of Minnesota and an MA in education from Concordia University.  She serves on the governing boards for the Natural Start Alliance, the Minneapolis Nature Preschool, and the Friends School of Minnesota, and is co-author of  Nature-Based Learning for Young Children:  Anytime, Anywhere, on Any Budget.  Her special areas of interest include increasing access to nature for all children and sharing the benefits of nature-based education.

Afternoon Plenary

Ted's Tick Talk

Ted Watt, Naturalist, Hitchcock Center for the Environment, Amherst, MA
We all want our children to grow up outdoors, exploring and learning. We also want them to stay safe! Tick-borne diseases pose significant hazards. There are no easy answers to the "tick problem," but knowledge is power; we can work to reduce the risk of disease transmission. The more we know, the more confidence we will have in adopting strategies that keep children healthy. Ted will share life history and identification information about the tick species found in southern New England. We'll learn how to distinguish males and females of the various species. And we'll learn which species of tick carry which diseases and during which phases in their life cycles they can transmit disease. Ted will also share some strategies for reducing fear around ticks for ourselves and for the young people and families we work with.

Ted Watt is an Environmental Educator who has worked at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst, MA for over 20 years. Ted is a highly skilled Naturalist who helps children and adults understand the unique habitats and ecosystems of New England through hands-on instruction and mentorship. He supports teachers to develop curriculum in natural sciences and assists in aligning their science teaching with the Massachusetts Science Standards. Ted is intrigued by all aspects of natural history and has in-depth knowledge about the birds and plants of the Northeast.

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