Skip to main content
Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

In Bloom in Western Mass: Promising Practices in Nature-based Early Childhood Education

June 8, 2019 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm EDT

Wildflowers in a field with sky beyond

Antioch University New England hosts three In Bloom east coast conferences this spring:

  • In Bloom in Vermont (Brattleboro, VT) – Saturday, March 23, 2019
  • In Bloom in Maine (Kittery, ME) – Saturday, April 27, 2019
  • In Bloom in Western Mass (Amherst Massachusetts) – June 8, 2019

We are co-sponsoring a similar conference in partnership with the Teton Science Schools in Jackson, Wyoming:

  • In Mud in Wyoming (Jackson, Wyoming) – April 27, 2019

In Bloom In Western Mass

Morning Keynote:

Equity Diversity, Anti-bias, and Inclusive Nature-based Learning

Sheila Williams Ridge, Director, Shirley G. Moore Lab School, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

As studies continue to point to the benefits of time outdoors and nature education, making these accessible to all children, in a variety of settings, is of growing importance. It is equally important for the future of the environment that all citizens have a deep bond of stewardship with nature. Sheila will discuss the challenges and barriers faced by educators who want to increase diversity within their programs. She will share what an equitable and inclusive environment looks like in the classroom and consider equity in terms of staff and the school community. Sheila will also focus on anti-bias education and implicit bias training for staff to prepare them to create an equitable environment.

Sheila Williams Ridge

Sheila Williams Ridge directs the Shirley G. Moore Lab School at the University of Minnesota and is an instructor for the Institute of Child Development. She is also an adjunct instructor at Hamline University. Sheila holds a BA in biology from the University of Minnesota and an MA in education from Concordia University. She serves on the governing boards for the Natural Start Alliance, the Minneapolis Nature Preschool, and the Friends School of Minnesota, and is co-author of Nature- Based Learning for Young Children: Anytime, Anywhere, on Any Budget. Her special areas of interest include increasing access to nature for all children and sharing the benefits of nature-based education.

Morning Workshop:

Children and Nature: Design Principles for Educators
David Sobel, Professor Emeritus, Antioch University New England, Keene, NH

Service-Learning Possibilities: Learning about the Outdoors and Cultivating Problem-Solvers
Talia Miller, Service Learning Coordinator, Colrain Central School, Colrain, MA

Documenting and Planning for Little Explorers
Amy Jackson, Preschool Teacher, The Center School, Greenfield, MA

Less Screen Time, More Green Time: Facilitating After School Nature Play Programs
Meg Taylor, Director, Educator and Consultant, Field & Forest Education Services, Williamsburg, MA

School Days to Forest Days: Routines in the Wild
Eliza Minnucci, consultants, ForestKinder, Tunbridge, VT and Adjunct Faculty, Antioch University New England, Keene, NH
Meg Teachout, consultant, ForestKinder, Tunbridge, VT

Math Beneath the Maples
Hannah French, Teacher, Rowe Elementary School, Rowe, MA

Afternoon Plenary:

Ted’s Tick Talk

Ted Watt, Naturalist, The Hitchcock Center for the Environment, Amherst, MA

We want our young people to grow up outdoors, exploring and learning. We also want them to stay safe, and tick-borne diseases pose significant risks. The more we know, the more confidence we will have in adopting strategies to protect children. There are no easy answers… but knowledge is power; we can work to reduce disease transmission. Ted will share life history and identification information about the tick species found in southern New England. We’ll learn how to distinguish males and females, find out which species carry particular diseases, and learn when in their life cycles ticks can transmit disease. Ted will also share some strategies for reducing fear around ticks that will ease our minds, along with those of the children and families we work with.


Ted Watt

Ted Watt is an Environmental Educator who has worked at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst, MA for over 20 years. Ted is a highly skilled Naturalist who helps children and adults understand the unique habitats and ecosystems of New England through hands-on instruction and mentorship. He supports teachers to develop curriculum in natural sciences and assists in aligning their science teaching with the Massachusetts Science Standards. Ted is intrigued by all aspects of natural history and has in-depth knowledge about the birds and plants of the Northeast.

Afternoon Workshop:

Start small or GO BIG
Sheila Williams Ridge, Shirley G. Moore Lab School, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

Tracking Ticks
Robin Huntley, Teacher, Juniper Hill School for Place-based Education, Alna, ME

Integrating the School’s Garden into the Early Childhood Curriculum
Jean Meister and Jenny Coy, Teachers of 3-6-year-olds, The Common School, Amherst, MA.

A Garden to Dye For
Faith Masterson and Amanda King, First Grade Teachers, Dondero Elementary, Portsmouth, NH

A Garden to Dye For
Michelle Parrish, Teacher, Grades 1-2, The Common School, Amherst, MA

I Wonder as I Wander
Colleen Kelley, Education Director, Hitchcock Center for the Environment, Amherst, MA

Movement and Music in Nature
Jayme Timpson Winell, Physical Education Teacher, The Common School, Amherst, MA

The Farm and Forest are our Teachers
Rachel Kennedy, Teacher, The Hartsbrook School, Hadley, MA

Registration Information

Workshop sign-ups will be done at the registration check-in on the morning of the conference. Please read the conference brochure in advance to determine your preferred workshops. We will open registration at 8:00 am. Morning beverages and refreshments will be available.


  • Working Professional: $125
  • Group Rate: (per person for 3 or more from the same organization) $100
  • AUNE Alumni and Co-Sponsors: $75
  • AUNE Students: $50


Antioch University New England accepts credit cards and checks as payment. If your school/organization is paying by check, please complete the business section of the registration form for invoicing purposes.


The Common School Co-Sponsors Logo
Hitchcock Center Co-Sponsor Logo
Tinker Garden Co-Sponsor Logo


June 8, 2019
8:00 am - 5:00 pm EDT


The Hitchcock Center for the Environment
845 West St
Amherst, MA 01002 United States
+ Google Map

Antioch University and Otterbein University Announce Intention to Form First-of-Kind National University System.

Skip to content