2016 Speakers

Claire-Warden-121x134Claire’s approach to Nature Kindergartens has earned her international recognition as a pioneer in educational thinking. Her respect for children and families runs through the Floorbook approach that is used within Nature Pedagogy to incorporate children’s voices into intentional teaching. Claire Warden is one of the world’s leading consultants and writers on the use of consultative methods in education.

The centre for excellence she has set up in the UK is renowned for Auchlone Nature Kindergarten and the consultative Floorbooks used there. Her own learning pathway as a teacher, involves working in a wide variety of settings (2-18 years), mentoring and advisory work, authoring over 14 books and designing resources and landscapes.

Claire is an international advisor to the Children and Nature Network, World Forum Foundation and the International School Grounds Group. She was voted Exceptional Master Leader in the field of Early Care and Education, is a Visiting Fellow at Strathclyde University, Research Fellow and consultant at The Federation University, Australia and is currently engaged in a PhD exploring Nature Pedagogy.

Rachel-Larimore-121x134Rachel Larimore is Director of Education at Chippewa Nature Center in Midland, Michigan where her responsibilities include administration of all youth-related programming including the Center’s nature-based preschool—a program that now serves 124 children each year. To help other centers create a similar program Rachel authored “Establishing a Nature-Based Preschool” published by the National Association for Interpretation.

She received a bachelor’s in natural resource recreation and tourism, a master’s in park and recreation administration, and is currently a doctoral student in the department of community sustainability at Michigan State University focusing on nature-based early childhood education.

Paul-121x134 Paul is passionate and articulate speaker on the rights and needs of children. He is an Architect by training, based in San Francisco Bay Area involved in all aspects of developing spaces for children and training for teachers. Over the past seven years since beginning the Columbia College Child Development Center in Sonora, CA, he has been on a journey of learning and immersion in the realms of children- indoors, outdoors and beyond.

One of the Founders of the World Forum’s Global Collaborative OnDesign for Children, Paul was instrumental in organizing and leading the group’s first conference in 2012 which attracted more than 130 attendees from sixteen countries around the world; He is also part of the World Forum’s Nature Action Collaborative. A frequent presenter at workshops and conferences around the country, he has also been involved teaching with the Outdoor Classroom Project and with Nature Explore.

Paul after having trained in Scotland and Norway, is now the Claire WardenTM Educational Consultant for the USA. He is inspirational, motivating and listens well. Paul is currently in the process of developing his own Nature based Preschool and National Training Center in Vallejo to help further this movement of bringing children back in contact with nature. A proud Californian, he loves to be outdoors and is particularly excited to be a part of this training institute.


Working across the UK and internationally, Jan is a leading thinker and writer on outdoor provision and advocate for high quality outdoor provision for services for children from birth to seven.  With thirty years’ experience in education, she is an Early Education Associate, adviser for several landscape and equipment companies, convener of the Landscapes for Early Childhood national network, and teaches on the Master’s program at CREC (Birmingham City University).  She provides training courses, conference keynotes and consultancy for a wide range of early years settings.

Jan is award-winning author of Playing and Learning Outdoors: making provision for high quality experiences in the outdoor environment with children 3-7 (Routledge, 2nd edition 2014), Making a Mud Kitchen (Muddy Faces, 2012) and Every Child a Mover (Early Education, 2015), editor of Outdoor Provision in the Early Years (Sage, 2011), and collaborated with Siren Films to make the award-winning training DVDs Babies Outdoors, Toddlers Outdoors and Two Year-olds Outdoors (Siren Films, 2011).  She blogs at janwhitenaturalplay.wordpress.com

amy butler head shotAmy Butler is the Director of Education at the North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier, Vermont and has been connecting adults and children with the natural world for 20 years. She founded Vermont’s first forest preschool and has nurtured it’s growth to serve the needs of local children and their families. In 2010, Amy founded ECO (Educating Children Outdoors), a standards based nature immersion program that serves 9 public schools in the central Vermont area. Each week Amy and her team facilitate outdoor learning with students and support teachers in extending their classroom into the outdoors.

By advocating for every child to have access to the natural world, Amy strives to help children develop a strong sense of who they are and where they come from. She believes that by simply teaching children how to care for themselves, how to care for others and how to care for the earth, that they will become active citizens, choosing to hold Vermont’s beauty in their care. Amy lives at the base of Spruce Mountain with her family and loves back country skiing, tending her garden and birding by ear from her

Anthony-Morris-121x134Anthony Morris is an Early Childhood Educator who has been teaching in inner city Melbourne since 2006. In 2015 Anthony completed the Claire Warden Nature Pedagogy Course, and presented alongside Claire at the Children Learning with Nature Conference in Santa Cruz, USA. Anthony’s passion for Early Childhood nature education was fostered during his own childhood family holiday adventures to the beach and bush.
The Boy Scouts gave Anthony an awe inspiring respect of nature, and taught him how to play safely with knives and rope. Anthony uses the passion fostered in his childhood adventures, and the knowledge gained from his teaching studies, to take children in Early Childhood settings out into the natural/beyond spaces/environments that can be found in inner city Melbourne.
Anthony has a young family, whom spend much of their spare time in nature and the outdoors. He lives in Melbourne, Australia. Anthony acknowledges the Wurundjeri people, of the Kulin Nations, as the traditional custodians of the land on which he lives, learns, works, and plays.

Sharon-121x134Sharon is an environmental city planner and the CEO of Green Schoolyards America, a nonprofit organization based in Berkeley, California, USA. Over the last sixteen years, her professional work and passion have focused on transforming school grounds into vibrant public spaces that reflect and enhance local ecology, nurture children as they learn and play, and engage the community.

Sharon is author of Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation, co-founder of the International School Grounds Alliance and a founding principal of Bay Tree Design, inc. Sharon and Raymond Isola will share their collaborative work to establish a professional development program for school principals who are engaged in green schoolyard management in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Anna-121x134Anna Ekblad is a preschool teacher and specialist teacher in science, technology and mathematics. Anna has also, together with some colleges, written a book about how to teach science/technology outdoor for preschool children.

She has worked for more than 25 years as a teacher and the last six years as an education adviser at Naturskolan (Nature School) in Lund, Sweden. Naturskolan offer teachers in Lund to explore and develop different ways of teaching science and education for sustainable development (ESD), based on the national curriculum, primarily using outdoor education in the community. Naturskolan strongly encourage use of the school grounds. Anna has been a member of the ISGA Leadership Council since 2011.

0Michelle Lawton founded Stretch the Imagination in 2002 with the intention of creating a program where children are free to explore and are given the time to delve deeply into their experiences. Stretch originally started as a program for art, yoga and music. Over the past 12 years, it has developed into a respected preschool program grounded in nurturing children’s development through creativity, inquiry and connecting to the natural world. Michelle has studied with Dan Siegel at the Mindsight Institute and Jon Young at the 8 Shields Institute where she helps coordinate Bird Language workshops for educators.

ArielabiopictureAriela Ronay-Jinich is the Director of Youth and Family Programs and Summer Camp Director at Urban Adamah in Berkeley, a Jewish community farm.  Her specialty is integrating Jewish and nature-based learning.

At Urban Adamah, Ariela directs numerous programs including school field trips, synagogue programs, family programs, and Camp Urban Adamah in the Summer. She delights in seeing small hands partake in kale-eating and mud-building. Ariela also enjoys collaborating with adults who love working with children. She works closely with the Jewish Federation’s Early Childhood Education Initiative to provide training for Jewish preschool teachers in nature-based Jewish learning and has provided teacher training at several Bay Area synagogues and Jewish schools