Summer EarthWalk Nature Mentoring: An Outdoor Learning Course for Educators

Course Number: EDU 5627 C19 (graduate), EDU 4710 CFS23 (undergraduate)
Instructor: Angella Gibbons & Justin Sutera
Location: EarthWalk Vermont, Plainfield
Dates and Times: August 5-9, 2019 from 9 am-5 pm
Credits: 3 Graduate Credits
Tuition: $1,150

Note: Please register directly with EarthWalk. If you wish to take the course for Castleton credit, please tell EarthWalk who will then give you the link to Castleton's online registration form.

Course Description

This personalized 5-day outdoor field course is for adult learners who want to experience a dynamic approach and methodology in community and nature-based education. Gain skills used in mentoring children in nature, guided by principles grounded in care for one another and the Earth. Adult learners can strengthen their own personal nature-connection; develop earth skills; practice powerful techniques in mentoring to create a joyful learning community. Experience hands-on activities, crafts, games, stories and songs that can tap into children’s innate sense of curiosity and wonder. Some opportunities provided throughout week to engage directly with, and learn from, children and mentors at concurrent EarthWalk Summer Camp.  This course is appropriate for classroom teachers as well as non-traditional educators who want to learn, and/or go deeper in Nature Mentoring and are ready to bring more learning outside! Note for classroom teachers: this course and the aligned goals, objectives, assignments, and projects were developed with a consideration for Vermont’s Education Quality Standards, Transferable Skills and Recommended Performance Indicators. Those include communication, collaboration, creativity, innovation, inquiry and problem-solving.

NOTE: This course can be taken as a stand-alone course and can also be included as part of the EarthWalk Nature Mentoring Certificate. Please contact Angella Gibbons at EarthWalk for more information on the certificate.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the participant will be able to analyze, evaluate, create, as well as apply new:

  1. approaches and methods for deepening relationships with the natural world.
  2. practices of Nature Mentoring utilizing the Core Routines of Nature Connection*. These routines include: Sit Spot, gratitude, sensory awareness activities, Art of Questioning; nature-journaling and storytelling.
  3. approaches and methods to guide learning activities for children based on natural and seasonal cycles.
  4. naturalist knowledge and skills (local phenology) to guide activities, including local edible and medicinal plants; wildlife track and sign and bird language.
  5. outdoor living skills to be safe and dry in all seasons, including; trailside first aid, fire-making, natural shelters, wild foraging, cooking and making crafts.
  6. knowledge and skills to build strong relationships, through mentoring "The Three-Cares"; care for self, others and the earth; group building games and activities; singing songs and sharing stories.
  7. knowledge and skills to share with intercultural competence, traditions and practices for inter-generational community to flourish, such as; acknowledging cultural influence and origin of songs and stories and honoring elders.
  8. knowledge and skills for guiding values of stewardship, including: nature-connection and awareness, storytelling, ethical harvesting, trail restoration, and service projects.
  9. knowledge and skills related to Vermont’s Education Quality Standards and Transferable Skills and Recommended Performance Indicators.

*Core Routines of Nature Connection are natural learning habits documented in Coyotes Guide to Connecting to Nature, by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGowan.

Required Texts

Required Reading:

EarthWalk Nature Mentoring Foundations: a packet of information, including a Natural Learning Framework, activities, games, songs and bibliography.

Highly Recommended Reading:

Holland, M., & Kaneko, C. (2010). Naturally Curious: A photographic field guide and month-by-month journey through the fields, woods, and marshes of New England. North Pomfret, Vt.: Trafalgar Square Books.

Young, J., Haas, E., & McGown, E. (2010). Coyote's guide to connecting with nature. Shelton, Wash: OWLLink Media.

Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Chapel Hill, NC; Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

Other Suggested Readings/Texts/ Key References:

http://education.vermont.gov/student-learning/proficiency-based-learning/transferable-skills

 Other Information Not Listed Above

Assignments/Projects/Standards Addressed/Expectations:

In order to receive a Passing grade, the participant must complete the following course requirements:

  1. Attend all outdoor class sessions and participate and engage with others in activities, group discussions, and projects. 
  2. Complete a Nature Journal Portfolio, reflecting unique and personal learning experiences in Nature Mentoring. The portfolio can include but is not limited to: nature-journal pages, photos of hand-made crafts, songs, stories, poetry, drawings, writings and mentoring observations. Journal will be 25 pages or more.
  3. Complete an Action Research Project. Through the lens of Nature Mentoring, please reflect and include in your project how you have also been able to address Vermont’s Education Quality Standards and Transferable Skills. 

Evaluation/Grading:

Attendance and Participation: 40 pts
Nature Journal Portfolio: 30 pts
Action Research Project (practical application of Nature Mentoring): 30 pts
TOTAL 100 pts

For additional course and registration information

Angella Gibbons
(802) 454-8500

Register online now!