In order to capture a diverse array of interests as well as provide multiple perspectives on human interactions with nature, we offer experiences across a broad range of themes:
The Natural World
Examine ecosystems, watershed, soils, plants and wildlife through scientific inquiry
Garden to Table
Explore cultural connections to land and place through growing, foraging, preparing and sharing food
Engage in creative design for a future in which natural resources are used responsibly
Health and Well-being
Eat well, live actively, develop self-awareness, and build community
On any given day, participants might rotate through activities such as testing water samples, planting trees, recording observations, drawing insects, harvesting and grinding masa for tortillas, playing games, hiking trails, designing a homestead, or dyeing t-shirts, making paper, and building a trellis from materials harvested on site. We work with learners of all ages.
A note from your Nature Days Mentor, Ms. Fallon:
Each fall, as my students and I walk through the green, lush, moss covered forest or harvest peas and carrots from the garden we planted, I’m brought back to the countless hours I spent exploring our family forest and farm when I was growing up. I remember riding through the garden in a wheelbarrow alongside the bounty I had just helped my grandfather harvest. We’d stop to say hi to the pigs underneath the big hazelnut tree and toss them some of the sunburnt tomatoes and wilted lettuce. Grandpa took the fresh-picked veggies inside to make dinner while I ran along to play in my secret place beneath my favorite tree in the forest. As a child I spent hours there turning over rocks, discovering entire tiny worlds underneath or climbing to the top of the tree where I often saw a hawk perch, gazing over the fields in search for his next meal. I was the hawk when I perched atop that tree. The world was magical, full of excitement and possibilities. I could do anything, be anything! These are moments that happen when children are out of doors, in nature, exploring the world. A childhood spent outdoors helps to develop independence, confidence, resilience, creative thinking, healthy habits, and so much more.
As an educator I have personally seen the positive affects that outdoor, experiential education has on children. Take for example little Judah - on his first day he arrived a bit late. He was timid and he peeked out from behind his mom’s legs when I kneeled to introduce myself. The other children, the self-proclaimed “Wolfpack,” were busy dancing and singing as they mixed the cob we would later use to create a half moon wall beneath the big douglas firs. The structure, we hoped, would serve as one of our outdoor classroom spaces and help protect us from the harsh winter wind. A silent tear rolled down Judah’s cheek as he looked up at me. His mom later informed me that they had just moved from Los Angeles and that he had very little experience with the natural world. He was scared of mud and worms and outside. He preferred video games and movies. But Judah’s mom knew that her son was lacking some of the things that had made her own childhood so wonderful, like building forts, finding a ladybug hatch, or discovering the sweet smells the summer breeze carries, so she encouraged him to stay with us. The first couple weeks had their challenges, but by winter, Judah was leading a team of fellow first graders in mudslide races. Not only did he learn about water, soil, and biology, he developed people skills and personal attitudes that will be a part of him for the rest of his life. This is the foundation that EdenAcres intends to provide for children in our community at through all of our programming.
In the past decade, the benefits of connecting children and nature have been researched and documented in numerous scientific studies and publications. Collectively, the research shows that a child’s academic, physical, social, emotional, and psychological well-being are positively affected by regular, daily contact with nature. From improving eyesight to reducing the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder to improving a child’s academic performance, exposure to nature benefits the whole child. In contrast to these findings, children are spending ever less time outdoors and are becoming increasingly attached to the virtual world of video screens. A national organization, No Child Left Inside, is working to counteract that trend through promoting legislation and funding to support outdoor experiences for K-12 students. As well, many states have published environmental literacy plans and are beginning to implement them in their schools. EdenAcres Environmental Education is responding to this need through our many outdoor and experiential education based programs.
Many of the world’s great environmental leaders and activists, such as Rachel Carson and Henry David Thoreau, began their lives playing for long hours outside; discovering frogs, getting dirty, and finding a love and connection with nature. This program is truly a gift we are giving to our children, and the skills and experiences will stay with them for a lifetime. Even if your child is not participating in our programs, we invite and encourage you and your children to visit natural settings to explore, get dirty, and take a moment to listen to and learn from the world around us.