By Natural Start Alliance
“Educating Children Outdoors (ECO) is a nature immersion program developed by the North Branch Nature Center located in Montpelier, Vermont. ECO was founded in 2009 by two teachers within the Montpelier City School District for Kindergarten and 1st grade students. With a passion for learning and exploring the nature of Vermont, these pioneering teachers partnered with Amy Butler and North Branch Nature Center to get their students outdoors and into natural areas to learn once a week as a part of their science curriculum. ECO works in collaboration with teachers and their students throughout the entire school year to introduce children to the natural communities outside their classroom door while also meeting Common Core and NGSS standards. ECO is designed for students in preschool and all the way up to 6th grade. Now ten years later, ECO has made a positive and lasting impact in over a dozen public schools and has trained and consulted with over 100 teachers through our summer ECO Institute. ECO both emcompasses science, literacy, and math with its lesson plans and affords endless opportunities for children to learn how to care for themselves and develop empathy for the living world.
We asked Amy to tell us more about the ECO program and how it has evolved over the last ten years.”