Amy 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 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 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 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.
Michelle 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.
Ariela 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