Natural Teachers

Welcome to the virtual gathering place for Natural Teachers. A Natural Teacher is any educator who uses the natural world as a powerful learning environment—whether the subject is biology, writing, art, or any other.

Members: 414
Latest Activity: Feb 12

Every teacher can be a Natural Teacher.

Think of this forum as a break room full of your peers ready for a conversation, a place where you can share ideas and ask for suggestions, where you can be engaged, creative, and encouraged. The subject: How to use the natural world as a classroom to improve your students’ health and well-being, including cognitive ability and attitudes toward learning. The objective: Inspire action, individually or in groups.

Like any meeting place where diverse opinions and concerns are shared, the discourse here must be civil. For further guidance on the “rules of engagement,” please see a set of Frequently Asked Questions located at

The goal is to encourage more teachers to connect their students with nature and to provide a forum where Natural Teachers can share their knowledge and views. Collectively, Natural Teachers can have a profound impact on improving the lives of children, and, in some schools and communities, that is already happening.

Please participate actively, and encourage others to join. Get together face-to-face as well.

You'll find tools and resources throughout the larger Children & Nature Network website.

The Children & Nature Network Leadership Team will monitor this NTN Group web site from time to time, to respond to ideas and encourage action. Thank you for your commitment to children.

Discussion Forum

Workshop: Nurturing Our Children, Ourselves, and Nature

Dear All,    We are launching a new program supporting adult teachers and facilitators of nature and learning experiences. We begin with a workshop on October 7, 2017 in White Plains, NY:Nurturing…Continue

Started by LoraKim Joyner Jul 26, 2017.

Backpacking Wilderness Summer Camp Counselor Positions Available

Camp Unalayee, a non-profit wilderness summer camp for kids, ages 10-17 is looking for outdoor lovers who want to be backpacking Summer Camp Counselors. Come spend the summer in the beautiful Trinity…Continue

Started by Sarah Camp Feb 7, 2017.

Music and the outdoors 8 Replies

I'm wondering if  you know of any resources connecting music to  the outdoors ?Continue

Started by Kari. Last reply by Tara Lynn Von Dollen Sep 18, 2016.

ParkLAND Project Get Kids off the Playground and Into the Wild Corners of Local Parks

A new Raintree School initiative is afoot. And we're inviting everyone! From preschoolers to scouts, Missouri to Maryland, we'd like to…Continue

Tags: mapping

Started by Brandi Cartwright Aug 9, 2016.

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of Natural Teachers to add comments!

Comment by Suz Lipman on August 3, 2011 at 9:19am

Hi All - Thought this news story might be of interest:


Schools in England and Canada are creating green schoolyards and nature -based programs.

Comment by Mandy Tulloch on July 29, 2011 at 3:30pm
Hi All, just catching up on postings here. Re macro photography, Niall (pronounced Neil) Benvie in Scotland has come up with a fantastic method of taking the most beautiful images of animals up close and personal. It involves simple and cheap materials (plus a little skill!). Contact him at
Comment by Lori Kiesser on July 28, 2011 at 7:14pm

Outdoor Education: An Entry to Careers In Science and Math For Dive...


"Connecting kids with nature not only contributes to their physical, social, and emotional development (3), but it may also instill in them the enthusiasm to pursue a career in science or in another STEM field."

Comment by Emily Kent on July 28, 2011 at 5:36pm

I really appreciate your insight Amy, thank you! It's empowering to hear. Someone who is very dear to me and whom I admire a great deal, shared his similar outlook with me recently, that teachers are in a position to really strengthen and influence a community. He's a Physical Education teacher/outdoor guru, and possesses a very natural, welcoming approach to teaching and maybe more importantly, learning together.

Thanks so much for the encouragement and for the insight into your experiences.


Comment by Amy Butler on July 27, 2011 at 8:46am


Thanks for your enthusiasm and your question on "what works". There is much we can do as parents, educators, and community members to instill a love for the outdoors for our children. People have been writing books on this very topic in the last ten years, hitting everything from games and activities for the outdoors, the implications of too much time in front of the screen, and what happens physically, emotionally, and developmentally to children who do not get enough time immersed in the natural landscape of their communities and bioregions.

After many years of working with children and adults outdoors as a naturalist and a teacher, I have a place that offers an incredible opportunity for immense change in our cultures view of the outdoor world. The public school. Children spend their early learning years in some sort of formalized educational system. If a school can create and foster a love for the outdoors, there is no stopping the effects it can have on each individual child and the community as a whole. School gardens, naturalized playscapes, lessons in wetlands, forests, and, fields, and citizen science projects all have the capability to radically change learning on a whole child basis and open the door to awareness of what is happening outside.

Check in with your local daycare centers, preschools, elementary and high schools. Are they using their communities as a classroom? And if not, why?

best to you and your work!


Comment by Emily Kent on July 26, 2011 at 6:43pm

Hello educators! I'm a new mom, new writer and new local outdoor network founder. I'd love any feedback or insight from you on "what works" from your perspective, to grow and sustain a local active, outdoorsy bunch. During your morning coffee, if you could take a peek at my articles and jump into the discussions with thoughts, suggestions, etc. I'll be very appreciative!

"Making the great outdoors a regular part of our diet" by Emily Kent

Comment by Suz Lipman on July 26, 2011 at 10:23am

Hi Folks,

Deb Dorsett Hanson has started a discussion that I think will interest many of you.

"The Role of Libraries in Connecting Children to Nature"

I'm sure many of you have ideas about and experience with this. Come join the discussion:

Comment by Suz Lipman on July 26, 2011 at 10:09am
Hi Rita! Those are wonderful pictures. I would love to get more comfortable with macro photography. Do you recommend a certain lens with the macro setting? I'm really glad you shared here. Did you know that Placer Nature Center is a member of this forum? I bet they'd love to see your post and photos, if they haven't already. Hope to see you again soon -- please feel free to post photos and news about your camp whenever you get a chance.
Comment by Rita Gordon on July 14, 2011 at 5:22pm

I recently taught a beginning digital photography class to kids at Placer Nature Center in Auburn, CA. My mission with Wild Child Outdoor Photo Camps is to reconnect kids with nature thru digital photography. All lessons take place outdoors, and all shooting assignments are designed to get kids interacting & examining nature. For 3 hours every afternoon for a week, we learned to take the cameras off the Automatic setting and shoot everything in Manual. For example, when we learned to use the Macro feature, the campers were assigned to go on a bug hunt. Using the Macro feature requires the camera to be just inches from the subject, so this allowed the kids to really explore outdoors! I'm in the process of making this business model available to other photographers. My vision is to see Wild Child Outdoor Photo Camps become available nationally. See samples of campers work at this link:

Comment by Shirley Galbrecht on July 10, 2011 at 10:49am

Hello everyone,


Just a note to let you know that my children's ebook, The Animal Seeker, for school age children 7 to 10,  is 50% off the month of July making it 99 cents. Find out more at:


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