50th Anniversary

Prescott College Receives $100,000 Grant for Early Childhood Education Teacher Training

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“Children learn best through experiencing the world around them,” added John Flicker, President of Prescott College.

Prescott College has received a $100,000 grant from the George B. Storer Foundation to establish a Center for Place- and Nature-Based Early Childhood Education. The Center will train preschool instructors with an emphasis on working with children outdoors in nature.

“Prescott College is nationally recognized for its leadership in environmental education and environmental studies,” said Elizabeth Storer, President of the Storer Foundation. “This grant will help the College direct that expertise towards early childhood education.”

The Center will provide training to pre-service and current early childhood educators in place- and nature-based pedagogy and will provide ongoing support to such educators. The scope of training will include an annual weeklong summer institute open to all early childhood practitioners for continuing education credit. The Center will also produce scholarship that can be used to further knowledge about effective early childhood education.

“More and more preschools are trying create programs that connect children to nature,” said Judy Braus, Executive Director of the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). “Nature is an incredible classroom for young children. Parents ask for it and preschool providers see that it works. NAAEE recently created a network of preschool providers called the Natural Start Alliance to support the growing demand for nature-based preschool programs.”

A majority of the funding from the Storer Foundation will be used to hire a faculty person to rework the college’s current Early Childhood Education core curriculum to become entirely place- and nature-based, as well as develop additional coursework focused on place- and nature-based education, some of which will be part of the summer institute. Additional funds will be used to hire a part time graduate research assistant and to host the institute.

“Children learn best through experiencing the world around them,” added John Flicker, President of Prescott College. “Before television, computers and fear of ‘stranger-danger,’ children grew up playing outdoors all the time. Today, children spend less and less time outdoors. Nature preschools are in demand because they offer a safe and dependable way for parents to expose children to nature and provide a high quality educational experience. But few teachers are trained to work with young children outdoors. This grant will help fill that void.”