Prescott College Center for Nature & Place
The Prescott College Center for Nature and Place was established to support and expand training for early childhood educators, preservice teachers, administrators, and program directors in developmentally appropriate nature and place-based pedagogy. Founded in 2016 with support from the George B. Storer Foundation, the Center is housed in and integrated with Prescott College’s Department of Education and Teacher Preparation.
The Center focuses on designing innovative nature and place focused college course curricula for Prescott College students in the Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education undergraduate and graduate programs. It also offers residential professional development institutes and outreach workshops that provide training and experiential learning opportunities for early childhood educators across Arizona and beyond, including the Summer Institute for Nature and Place-Based Early Childhood Education.
The Center provides opportunities and support for student research on the effectiveness of nature and place-based early childhood teacher education and outdoor learning activities in order to add to current professional knowledge in the field. The center actively seeks opportunities to collaborate with other higher education institutions, schools, and organizations in implementing nature and place-based teacher training initiatives and related research projects.
Learn more about our programs
Summer Institute for Nature- and Place-based Early Childhood Education
Join us June 4-6, 2021, for an inspiring, fun, and informative professional development event hosted by the Center. Collaborate with a passionate and diverse group of early childhood educators during our 3-day early childhood education Summer Institute.
Participants will discover:
- What nature-and place-based early childhood education is and why it’s such a hot topic in ECE today.
- Ways to align their current teaching practices with the pedagogy of nature- and place-based learning.
- How to plan nature- and place-based experiences for young children that are developmentally and culturally appropriate, inclusive, and linked to early learning standards.
- Effective strategies to advocate for nature- and place-based activities in their program and community.
- Current advocacy efforts for increasing inclusive and equitable access by all children to nature- and place-based learning.
- Community resources and partnerships for increasing inclusive and equitable access to natural environments for children and families.
Introductory Workshop to Nature- and Place-based Pedagogy & Practice
Have you heard the buzz about the benefits of bringing nature and place inside the classroom?
Designed with the whole school in mind, this half-day workshop provides professional development to early childhood through elementary school teachers on nature and place-based learning. Workshop presenters work with administrators and teachers prior to the event to tailor discussion topics and resource materials to site specific needs and opportunities.
Possible topics include:
- Academic and social-emotional benefits of providing students with access to green space
- Methods for enriching the existing curriculum with nature- and place-based pedagogy
- How to support children’s growth in developmental domains using natural materials
- Nature play-scape design
- Garden curriculum
- Supporting students with special education needs, and more!
Online Professional Development Modules
Session 1: Inclusive Nature- & Place-based Math and Science Methods
In this 4-week self-paced module, participants will:
- Identify connections among concepts in early childhood STEM and nature- and place-based experiences. Identify connections among concepts in early childhood STEM and nature- and place-based experiences
- Describe practices for integrating nature- and place-based methods into early childhood STEM explorations
- Create project-based curriculum that utilizes scientific exploration, mathematical modeling, technology tools, and engineering practices to expand on children’s nature- and place-based play in early childhood programs
Session 2: Curriculum Development – Guideposts to Learning
In this 4-week self-paced module, participants will:
- Harmonize student-led inquiry with curriculum.
- Gain knowledge on different ways to structure curriculum.
- Collaborate with other like-minded individuals.
- Create a week’s worth of curriculum.
These online professional development opportunities are designed with in-service teachers in mind. Upon successful completion of this learning module, participants will receive a certificate for 6 hours of professional development in nature- and place-based methods.
Registration to open Summer 2021
Dirt Alert! A Podcast Connecting Research to Practice
The podcast that connects research to practice in the field of Nature-based Early Childhood Education. Episodes will expose listeners to a variety of introductory topics being explored in current nature- and place-based learning research as well as to a variety of programs using nature and place-based learning.
Episodes will identify major topics in the field of nature and place-based early childhood education, describe ways programs or schools can integrate nature and place-based learning in early childhood education (e.g. forest preschool, forest Fridays, gardens, nature and place-integration into the classroom, etc.), and discuss how to apply emerging research to teaching practices.
ECE & ECSE Degree Programs at Prescott College
Prescott College offers a several online pathways in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education.
Earn your B.A., post-baccalaureate certification, or M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education or Early Childhood Special Education! Nature and place-based learning topics are integrated throughout courses in these programs, giving graduates a one-of-a-kind experience to bring to their teaching practice!
Emergency Rescue Webinar for Parents
“How do I educate my student? I’m their parent, not their teacher.” Prescott College Academic Dean, Dr. Centae Richards, leads this webinar on how to maintain your children’s school progress, when the school is your own home.
Episode 1: https://youtu.be/Y0RIqCGHqL4
Episode 2: https://youtu.be/UbmCOyuxPkM
Episode 3: https://youtu.be/gj1_9v-xOdI
Episode 4: https://youtu.be/-KhwFE8ex8w
Episode 5: https://youtu.be/GdglGEGxWjM
Meet our staff
Educational Outreach Specialist
Tricia is a long-time Prescott resident, specializing in working with youth in the camp world, including adventure education, team-building, and coordinating both student and volunteer teams. Tricia also had the opportunity to support refugees in Phoenix, teaching others the English language. Tricia’s favorite thing to do is teach someone something new, help them find their strengths, and use them to their best ability. She currently serves as an AmeriCorps Member through the Center, leading our social media team, Center communications, and launching new Professional Development opportunities. Tricia is excited to pursue her Master of Education degree here at Prescott College in the coming years.
Experiential Education Program Coordinator
Allison is a passionate, lifelong advocate for young children, families, and early educators. She’s worked in early education at large for the past 17 years, through teaching, directing, child advocacy, parent training, coaching, and higher education leadership. Allison currently serves students, faculty, and community members as the Experiential Education Program Coordinator within the Education Department at Prescott College. One of her many hats is leading the Center for Nature & Place through community building and professional development. She’s dedicated to bridging the gap between early education and much needed family resources in rural communities like Yavapai county. Allison believes wholeheartedly that we have a moral obligation to not only support children, but we owe it to our community and future together.