Saturday, May 15, 2021 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM EDT
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The Hitchcock Center for the Environment
845 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002

Driving Directions 


Peg Smeltz
Antioch University New England

Morning Workshops

Taking the Plunge: Transitioning from a Few Hours Outside to Full-Time Forest School
Amy Wright and Sandy Browne, K-1 Teachers, The Greenfield Center School, Greenfield, MA

Wheat Your Appetite for Food Justice: 
The Little Red Hen Re-imagined
Kate Holdsworth, Director, Gan Keshet (Rainbow Garden) Preschool , Northampton, MA

Teach Them to Fish
Eliza Minnucci Forest Kinder, Tunbridge, VT, Adjunct Faculty,  Antioch University New England, Keene, NH

Discovery Yard
Colleen Kelley, Educational Director, Hitchcock Center for the Environment, Amherst, MA

Conference Brochure
Workshop Descriptions

Please read through the workshop descriptions to determine how you would like to spend your day. You will select your workshops during the registration check-in time on the morning of the conference.

Afternoon Workshops

Becoming Beavers: What We Can Learn from Nature’s Greatest Engineer and Community Builder
Ruthie Ireland, Preschool Teacher & Director, Arcadia Nature Preschool, Easthampton, MA

Storytelling and Puppetry in the Forest Kindergarten
Rachel Kennedy, Forest Kindergarten Teacher, 
The Hartsbrook School, Hadley, MA

Building Community in your Nature-based Setting through Family Programming.
Lisa Burris, Founder and Director, Turn Back Time, Paxton, MA

What Do You Do at Nature Play Afterschool?
Katie Koerten, Educator, Hitchcock Center for the Environment, Amherst MA

Working Professional                     $125
AUNE Alumni                                   $75
Student                                            $50

Saturday, May 15, 2020
9:00 am - 4:00 pm

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

This in-person event will be limited to 50 participants.
COVID protocols for the state of Massachusetts and the Hitchcock Center will be followed.

Morning Keynote

Not IF, But HOW:
Inclusion and Advocacy in Nature-based Programs

Lisa Burris, Founder and Director, Turn Back Time, Paxton, MA 

How do we build and expand nature-based programs and community that supports inclusive practices? How do we advocate for children who struggle with challenging behaviors to ensure support for every child? Explore solutions to some of the toughest questions facing nature-based educators today.

Turn Back Time is a nature education program whose mission is to help people recognize nature’s ability to teach and heal. Our mission is accomplished through education programs, nature play and farm education for children and young adults of all abilities. 30% of the program participants come from an under-resourced demographic such as individuals with a documented diagnosis, children living below the poverty line and children who are involved with a community agency such as DMH, DDS or DCF.

Since 2012 the 58-acre property has expanded from humble beginnings to now include an active beaver pond, an extensive forested trail system, and a fully functional working farm. Lisa and her husband have six children and are the adoptive parents of three children with special needs. As a result of her own personal parenting journey, Lisa created the concept of the nature-based education program for children of all abilities and has built the infrastructure and business plan that now serves over 600 children and young adults a year. Lisa holds a Nature–based Early Childhood Certificate from Antioch New England.

Afternoon Panel

What Have We Learned About Outdoor Learning
    from the Pandemic

Conor Driscoll, Principal, Hatfield Elementary School,
Hatfield, MA
Hannah French, 4th Grade Teacher, Rowe Elementary,
Rowe, MA
Eliza Minnucci, Director, ForestKinder, Tunbridge, VT, and Adjunct Faculty, Antioch University New England, Keene, NH.
Charlie Spencer, Head of School, Greenfield Center School, Greenfield, MA

The topic for the panel is What Have We Learned about Outdoor Learning from the Pandemic?  Our goal is to articulate some of the beneficial things we’ve learned from being outdoors with students.  And we’re hoping that some of these learnings can be carried forward even after the pandemic has subsided.  Specific questions panelists will address are:

1. What did you learn about space provision and facilities on the school grounds and in nearby natural areas that facilitated learning?

2. What kind of curriculum was doable, and not doable, in the outside environment?

3. How did you and your colleagues deal with winter weather in a useful fashion?

4. Were there unexpected benefits, for students and teachers, to spending more of the day outside?

5. What practices from this past year might you bring into next year, assuming next year is post-pandemic?

Do You Have a Voucher? 

If you received a voucher from your 2020 paid conference registration, watch for an email from Peg Smeltz with instructions.  Please include (on the registration form) the voucher # or person/school to whom it was issued.
Contact Peg if you need assistance.

603-762-0012 cell