Midwest Early Childhood Educator Symposium: Lessons from the Forest: How Great Programs Place Nature at the Heart of Their Curriculum

Schedule and Location

Saturday, June 1, 2019, 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Thornhill Education Center, The Morton Arboretum

Fees and Registration

$55.00 member
$55.00 nonmember
(Fees include admission to the Arboretum)
BY PHONE: 630-719-2468 ( Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)

Course Description

Nature-based learning is one of the fastest-growing approaches to early education in the United States today. Leaders in the field are working to develop a common set of practices for high-quality nature-based preschool programs - this symposium will highlight these emerging best practices and share practical tips for bringing nature into the classroom and taking learning outdoors. Discover what the schools at the forefront of this movement - nature and forest schools - have in common, and what lessons do they hold for other schools who are just starting to step outside.

The Northern Illinois Nature Preschool Association (NINPA), in conjunction with the Wisconsin Nature-based Early Childhood Association (WiNBECA) and The Morton Arboretum, is holding a symposium on June 1, 2019. This one-day event will bring together early childhood educators, administrators, and naturalists from across Midwest to share ideas to advance nature-based education in early childhood education. Join us to add new skills to your toolkit and learn about emerging ideas and trends in the field from experts and peers. 

The 2019 keynote speaker will be Christy Merrick, Special Projects Advisor at the Natural Start Alliance. Christy has worked in environmental education and communications for over 20 years. In 2013, she launched the North American Association for Environmental Education’s Natural Start Alliance, and is now working with education leaders to develop a common set of practices for high-quality nature-based preschool programs in the United States. You'll get a look inside this new resource and see how it is being applied.

Course number


Course Details

  • Notes: Held indoors and outdoors. Limit 170
  • Continuing education: CPDH credits for educators are available. More details coming soon.


Lodging and Transporation:

The conference hotel is the Hyatt Lisle:

Hyatt Lisle
1400 Corporetum Drive
Lisle, IL 60532

To reserve a room please click here or call 1-888-421-1442 and ask for the Midwest Early Childhood Educator Symposium. There are a limited number of hotel rooms reserved for the conference, please book your hotel rooms as soon as possible to receive the conference rate
To reach the hotel from the Arboretum, drive south on Route 53 just past Warrenville Road and turn right.

The two closest airports to The Morton Arboretum are Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) or Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW).  Please see the Maps and Directions page on the Arboretum website for additional information on getting to the Arboretum.
Arboretum class weather, cancellation and refund policies