Skip to Main navigation Skip to Left navigation Skip to Main content Skip to Footer

University of Minnesota Extension

Extension is almost done building a new website! Please take a sneak peek or read about our redesign process.

Extension > Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships > Northwest > Connecting Children and Nature > Conference & Workshop

Print Icon Email Icon Share Icon

Connecting Children and Nature:
Conference & Workshop

2012 Workshop

Natural Play Space in Your Community: An Interactive Workshop
Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - University of Minnesota, Crookston

UMC Children and Nature Natural Play Space in Your Community Workshop Postcard

Workshop Agenda (PDF)

Please join us for a day of discussion and presentations on creating natural play spaces. Wherever you and your community are at in the process, this workshop will have something for you.

In the morning, we will offer plenary presentation by U of M staff and local partners that will cover the planning, installation, and programming aspects of natural play spaces with examples of what has been done in the region. The afternoon will consist of break-out discussions that will address exactly what is needed to move your project forward. Read the full news release

$15 registration fee includes lunch
To register, fill out the online form or contact the Regional Extension Center at 218-281-8696 -

Facebook Icon - Small Find "Children and Nature in Northwest Minnesota" on Facebook

2010 Conference

Conference slideshow (PDF)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010
8:30 am - 4:30 pm
University of Minnesota, Crookston Campus

Featuring keynote by Cheryl Charles,
co-founder of the Children and Nature Network

Registration Fee: $20* (includes lunch)
Student Registration Fee: $5 (does not include lunch)

Simple steps can create mass movement to reconnect young children with nature. Learn and discuss how interactions in nature can improve health and wellness in every child.
2010 Schedule


Laura Bell

Linda Kingery

* The registration fee will be $21 for those paying by credit card.


US Fish & Wildlife Services | Rydell Wildlife Refuge | Regional Sustainable Development Partnership
Extension Environmental Science Education | University of Minnesota, Crookston
NW Statewide Health Improvement Program Cluster | Northwest Regional Development Commission
U of M Regional Extension - Crookston | MN Chapter of the Wildlife Society
MN Prairie Chicken Society


Time Connecting Children and Nature - September 29, 2010
"This day will be a success if people have the information they need to truly understand the importance of connecting children and nature, and tools to make it happen." David Bennett
8:30 - 9:20 am Registration in hallway to Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center
Meet the champions from the region - poster session and environmental education fair in Bede.
Tables and handouts with resources available from agencies and organization.
10 min Move to Kiehle Auditorium, Kiehle Building
9:30 am - 11:00 am Plenary Session in Kiehle Auditorium - Dan Svedarsky, Master of Ceremony

Welcome by Tom Baldwin, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, U of M, Crookston

Opening Remarks: Rick Schultz, USFWS Regional Chief - National Wildlife Refuge System

Keynote Speaker: Cheryl Charles, co-founder of Children and Nature Network
"The Ecology of Hope: Building a Movement to Reconnect Children and Nature"
15 min Move to Breakout Rooms
11:15 am - 12:00 pm

Breakout Session 1 (choose one of the following)

1a. Nature-Engaged Families: A Research Overview
Presenters: Nate Meyer, UM Ext.; Sherry Boyce, Rebecca Meyer, Kathleen Olson, and Andrea Lorek Strauss (Co-authors)
Presentation will describe research that supports the importance of family involvement with nature, and how families learn and recreate in nature. It will introduce UMN Extension research on nature-engaged families and statewide programming to serve nature-engaged families.

1b. Getting in Touch with Nature: Using digital media technology to connect students to nature (for grades 5 -12)
Presenters: Joe Courneya and Steve Maanum
Digital photography serves as the entry point to help teachers/educators get students in the field. This session includes overview of Where's Woody, Streaming Chicken, remote scouting cameras and ROV - remote operated vehicles. We will work hands- on with cameras and introduce participants to the 4-hour trainings offered through "Digital Photography Bridge to Nature".

1c. Walkable Communities: Explore your community and nature
Presenters: Sarah Reese and Guy Griebe, Northwest SHIP cluster; Troy Schroeder, Northwest Regional Development Commission
Walkable and bikeable communities accommodate all types of transportation, but focus on a safe and convenient environment for pedestrians and bicyclists. One way to support biking and walking in our community is to be an example- meaning for children and adults, alike, to walk or bike as often as possible. Bring your sneakers and take part in a short Walkable Community Audit. Learn about "Safe Routes to School".

12:00 pm - 1:20 pm Lunch in Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center
At 12:30, Emily Giese will introduce the Champions. Please take time to visit with them.
10 min Move to Breakout Rooms
1:30 -pm - 2:20 pm

Breakout Session 2 (choose one of the following)

2a. Seasons of nature and family traditions
Presenters: Nathan Meyer, David Wilsey and Sherry Boyce, UM Extension
Interactive presentation on intentional program planning to involve families with nature. Participants will collaborate in building a programming calendar that gives attention to months [or moons] of the year, what is happening in nature, what are people doing in nature, what kinds of programming are available or need to be available.

2b. Eyes on Wildlife: Following Wolves from the Classroom
Presenter: Becky Rennicke, Perham School
Eyes on Wildlife focuses on providing authentic research opportunities to students by partnering with research organizations such as the MN Department of Natural Resources, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Geological Survey and Moorhead State University. By providing a basic curriculum, teacher training, equipment and resources, this project is able to thrive and expand, and in the process benefits all of the players. This presentation will discuss how schools can start similar programs in their own community.

2c. Three Ways Back Into Nature: PWLC, PSC, and NatureWorks
Presenters: Matt Connor and David Ellis, USFWS
Are you looking for "a way back" into nature? Would finding ways to reconnect people, both children and adults, with nature be of use to you? Matthew Conner, director of Prairie Wetlands Learning Center and David Ellis, Instructional Systems Specialist are delighted to share with you three ways to invite people of all ages to reconnect with the natural world we live. In their presentation you will be introduced to the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center (PWLC), the Prairie Science Class (PSC), a 4th and 5th grade magnet science program for Fergus Falls Public Schools, and NatureWorks, a Bremer Foundation funded program, which reconnects teachers and students in four West Central Minnesota schools. Working for the USFWS Conner and Ellis are strong advocates for reconnecting Americans with nature.

10 min Move to Breakouts
2:30 pm - 3:20 pm

Breakout Session 3 (choose one of the following)

3a. Sampler of nature-based learning materials and resources
Presenter: Laura Bell, UM Crookston
A hands-on introduction to curricula from Project Learning Tree, Project Wild, Project WET, and opportunities for further training.

3b. Making good use of environmental field days - preparation and reflection.
Presenter: Nate Meyer, UM Extension
Field Days can be an effective gateway for youth and families into outdoor sports, recreation, stewardship and healthy behaviors. This interactive workshop will explore design/delivery strategies to make the most of these events for youth and families.

3c. Engaging Your Community - getting started with the resources in your community
Presenters: Dan Svedarsky, John Loegering -UM Crookston; Cheryl Charles, Children and Nature Network, and Mary Vidas, Tamarack Nature Center
What are the resources that are already in your country or region that can help connect children and nature? Find human and financial resources that will create the momentum in your community.

10 min Move to Plenary Session in Kiehle Auditorium, Kiehle Building
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm Plenary Session - Kiehle Auditorium
Panel of participants providing reflection, summary and wrap-up. Pull together and synthesize the key ideas of the day. Moderated by Dan Svedarsky.

Meet the Champions:

  • © Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy