AUNE’s Nature-Based Education Initiative Receives Major Grant from Storer Foundation

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The George B. Storer Foundation awarded $117,000 to Antioch University New England for its Nature-Based Early Childhood Education program.

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Educators during In Bloom nature-based workshop at AUNE. Photo credit: Bob Bailie.

"A tremendous interest in nature-based education nationwide has been demonstrated by the overwhelming response to the workshops and conferences we’ve presented over the last few years."

The George B. Storer Foundation has awarded a $117,000 grant to Antioch University New England’s (AUNE) Department of Education to develop its new Nature-Based Early Childhood Education program.

The AUNE initiative will train educators and teachers in nature-based early childhood principles and help them start nature preschools and forest kindergartens. It will also provide professional development to New England educators who want to bring more programming on nature and the outdoors into their public-school early childhood programs and environmental centers.

The Storer grant is funding the development of a 13-month certificate program of integrated courses aimed at early childhood professionals and/or entrepreneurs who want to create new programs. It is also supporting development of a specialization in nature-based early childhood for matriculated students in AUNE’s Teacher Certification/Integrated Learning master’s degree program. Students may specialize in elementary, early childhood, or holistic special education.

AUNE plans to eventually take its nature-based initiative to teachers in inner-city schools in New England and then to other cities in the Northeast and Canada.

“We’re honored to be chosen to develop this new nature-based education programming,” said David Sobel, core faculty member in AUNE’s Department of Education and a leader in nature-based childhood education. “A tremendous interest in nature-based education nationwide has been demonstrated by the overwhelming response to the workshops and conferences we’ve presented over the last few years. The Storer grant will help us continue to be out in front in this exciting and innovative educational field.”

Educators are appealing for more professional development and training in nature-based education. Many are interested in naturalizing existing programs and starting forest kindergartens and nature preschools. These programs, popular in Europe over the past twenty years but relatively new in the United States, take a different approach to curriculum than conventional, mostly indoor, early childhood programs.

About Antioch University New England (AUNE)
Antioch University New England offers highly respected doctoral, master’s, and certificate programs in education, environmental studies, management and psychology. Located in Keene, New Hampshire, this unique institution serves approximately one thousand students each year. Our graduates have gone on to be leaders of positive change, working toward a more just and sustainable society. Founded in 1964, Antioch University New England is the oldest of Antioch University’s graduate campuses. Learn more at:

About Antioch University
Inspired by the work of pioneering educator Horace Mann, Antioch University, a private, non-profit, 501(c) 3 institution, provides learner-centered education to empower students with the knowledge and skills to lead meaningful lives and to advance social, economic, and environmental justice. With campuses in Keene, New Hampshire, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Seattle, and Yellow Springs, Ohio, Antioch University is a bold and enduring source of innovation in higher education. The University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

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Jan Fiderio
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