As we finish our first semester, in what we now operate in as 2 - 6 weeks sessions, to allow for adjustments as we sway to and fro with the Covid Climate; I am excited by the possibilities of connecting more children to the natural world, as we move forth and navigate in these unprecedented times. Our staff, our families and the children have stayed healthy and we all had the fortunate experience to engage in the natural world in so many exciting, imaginative and connective ways. In reading this article below, I am reminded of the importance for our children to connect to the natural world as what my friend Kathleen Lockyer calls ‘Rx Outside’! All humans need it, is my true belief. We simply cannot deny the research and evidence of nature as a medicine for the mind, body and soul.
As a teacher, a Director, a mom of 2 nature-connected, earth-steward young men, I have been taking note of my own evidence over the last 20 years and have proven over and over again the positive changes nature offers the children we are so fortunate to have with us each program session. In our current times today, there is an even stronger need to get the kids outside, and even adults are feeling this for themselves. We must not forget that what we see in the kids whose parents are working so hard to support their children in school and social time, and connections away from the screen and inside doors, has shown me to be a true decompression for the kids.
‘They may prefer to stick to their screens, but here's why getting outdoors matters’ Danielle Cohen
Here is what BEan staff witness, in our outdoor adventures with the children:
more smiles, more laughter, some tears at times but followed by more resilience of being supported with wonderful mentors in a program with core values to support the child as they move through their time ‘just be’ing’, a willingness to try new things and build confidence, time to disconnect and disengage in the technical world and a time to drop into the wild world, children immersing into their imaginations; I personally have witnessed children from 5 all the way up to 14, do this, an ease in meeting new friends when maybe they were more shy to start, and a comfort in just be-ing while supported in the natural world, confidence built by connection to new skills such as ancestral fire building and tending, tracking, wild crafting, cooking over the fire they are tending to, an ease in meeting new friends and hanging out in the dirt together, a willingness to try new, challenging at times skills, tasks and learning. I could go on!
BEan teaches not by a didactic model but by an inquiry based style of teaching, we also call this in our wild language ‘coyote mentoring’, a skill taught to us by a teacher named Jon Young, in his book, Coyote Mentoring. We teach through ‘coyote mentoring’, where we focus on child-directed experiential learning, acute observation and inquiry, whereby students are "learning by doing".
Why is this important?
We believe it is through having magical experiential nature mentors that students will be inspired to have both hope and solutions in an era of climate change and global environmental, human and creature uncertainty. We believe students who are taught to fall in love with science through child-led nature mentoring, will be the ones who will be the pioneers of zero-impact, cradle-to-cradle manufacturing, and create biomimicry designs to complex human challenges for a healthy planet. They will be the ones who inspire their own families and people in their communities, for seven generations and beyond.
I am so grateful to my mentors and those who have walked this journey before me, that they have taken the time to mentor and support me in my journey. I only hope I can give back with so much love and intention to this beautiful earth we live on, to all the wonderful and brave young children we have the honor to teach.
-marisa bean, director, teacher, homeschool mother, organic farmer, pet mama, earth lover
Why Kids Need to Spend Time in NatureDanielle Cohen
By offering more in an outdoor environment, at BEan IN NATURE, we allow children to develop a strong sense of self and a natural love of science, creativity, writing, natural history and more. In this design children are naturally accessing their whole imaginations, incorporating their whole focus, all the while growing into amazing earth stewards.
'A powerful solution to the climate crisis can be found right beneath our feet—in the soil.
By harnessing the immense power of photosynthesis, we can convert atmospheric carbon, a problem, into soil carbon, a solution. Emerging science proves that shifting to regenerative forms of agriculture such as agroecology, agroforestry, cover-cropping, holistic grazing and permaculture will allow us to store excess carbon safely in the ground.'
Soil Solutions to Climate Problems - Narrated by Michael Pollan
At BEAN WE ARE CONNECTING TO THE EARTH WITH CREATIVE WRITING AND SCIENCE
WE LOVE KISS THE GROUND LEARNING RESOURCES! We believe that connecting to nature with the guidance of a creative nature mentor, who skillfully facilitates nature awareness, ancestral skills and crafts, while out in nature’s classroom, allows children to develop a strong sense of self and a natural love of science. In this design children are naturally accessing their whole imaginations, incorporating their whole focus, all the while growing into amazing earth stewards.
From Kiss The Ground: SOIL QUEST
You might not think much about the soil under your feet. It’s just dirt, right? Actually, soil is an essential foundation for all life on earth! Soil affects the food we eat, the nutrients our natural ecosystems need, the air we breathe, and the climate that makes our planet habitable. Crazy connections, right?
Here’s the problem: Earth’s healthy soil is rapidly disappearing. This is impacting our food supply, ecosystems, and air. It is also speeding up changes to our climate.
And here’s the good news! We can all work together to restore soil’s health, and in doing so, help slow changes to our climate. As a Soil Hero, you become a part of the solution.
Outdoor classes are safer. How can teachers make it happen?
By Jen Rose Smith, CNN
Updated 9:26 AM ET, Tue August 18, 2020
A teacher at the Bay Area's Golestan School in El Cerrito, California, conducts an open-air class.
(CNN)When students return to Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, this month, they'll find a campus transformed by Covid-19. Masks are required outside of dorm rooms; fall sports are delayed.
Many courses will be a hybrid of virtual offerings and in-classroom time. But one professor will be holding class outdoors as long as possible.
"I will be teaching my environmental studies class outside whenever the weather is non-lethal," said David O'Hara, a professor who is also the university's director of sustainability.
Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, built an outdoor classroom two years ago.
This isn't just pandemic thinking on his part. Two years ago, O'Hara worked with students to build the campus' first outdoor classroom from locally sourced slate, granite and quartzite.He relishes the chance to use it. "I teach outdoors as often as I can," he said, pointing to a long tradition of outside learning that includes open-air lectures by Aristotle and other ancient philosophers.
"You remember when you were a student, sitting in a classroom and staring out the window?" O'Hara asked. "I just figured, Let's go to the other side of the window."
Now, as educators return to work amid the pandemic, that decision seems prescient.
That's because scientists believe that transmission of Covid-19 is far less likely outdoors than indoors. Maintaining physical distance can be easier outside, and infected droplets dispel more quickly in fresh air. The sun and wind, studies have suggested, may help reduce the presence of viable viruses on surfaces.
...Chief Jake Swamp was a founder of the Tree of Peace Society, an international organization promoting peace and conservation. Chief Swamp delivered the Thanksgiving Address throughout the world, as well as at the United Nations. He was born on the Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation in upstate New York, and lived in Hogansburg, NY where he worked as a cultural adviser for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne's Child and Family Services. Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message was his first picture book. He passed away in October 2010.
BEan IN NATURE IS happy to announce that BEan IN NATURE has a new online outdoor nature educatioin learning resource! BEan has during the time of the shelter in place, after a 2 weeks at the announcement of the close of schools, programs, camps, an non essential workers working, in March, has worked tirelessly, rapid fire turn on a dime, flying close to the sun, WITH a herculean effort, on the part of Amazing BEan staff, has made the switch from being an outdoor school to an online one!
WELCOME BEan REgenerative Earth & Science Virtual Learning Program!
Many of you are at home with younglings, tweens, teens and trying to find things to keep them busy, while still learning something.
BEan online is here for you! We have quite a few interactive kids programs up, and more will be added every day.
There will also be adult offerings starting soon as well!
Email Marisa Bean
READ what Jennie, mom of 3 amazing young naturalists, scientists, artists and amazing little humans, that we have the honor to have in our program, shared:
I am the parent of three kids, ages 6, 9, and 12. My 12 year old has been part of BEan in Nature classes and camps for five years, and my younger children are following in his path. As I have fallen in love with the design, philosophy, and spirit of the program, I have been humbled to accept the invitation to join the staff as a teacher for a few homeschool classes and administrative work. When we began homeschooling, I debated putting my son into a nature class, since my husband and I are always ready to initiate a hike, join a camping trip, or take a few days to backpack in the wilderness, we wondered if our outdoor inclinations were *enough* for our kids. However, we also knew that our kids would benefit from others' perspective and love of nature, and that we have much to learn about the natural world, so we decided to give BEan in Nature a try. We were so inspired to see our son come alive with facts about nature, enhanced awareness for the environment, and a new comfort to enjoy learning in an outdoor environment. We even appreciated him addressing some of our habits that were not eco-friendly! We realized we would be remiss not to enroll him in another semester ... and another semester became a year ... became another year ... became camps ... became another of our kids joining BEan in Nature ... then another ... then personally teaching for the program.
As a family we are protective of our time and trying to play the schedule-simplifying game, but BEan in Nature is always on our non-negotiable list -- we can not let these classes go!
While we are now in this unusual time of shelter-in-place, BEan in Nature has provided my children and myself with a tremendous amount of resources to shift our energy to anchor ourselves in getting outdoors, EVEN if in our own backyards, connecting, playing, engaging. Learning, playing and enjoying nature with each other online!!! We are doing it! It works!!! The teachers are phenomenally talented and knowledgeable! We are so grateful!
I believe BEan in Nature has opened our childrens' eyes to nature in a way they will carry their whole lives. Although she is reluctant to receive the credit, the director of the program (Marisa Bean), has a philosophy of creating opportunities for kids to fall in love with nature. I believe it is this philosophy that keeps our family coming back for more; yes, the concerns for our Earth's health are overwhelming, but we know our young children can only shoulder so much. We agree with the program philosophy of letting kids love nature, and trusting they will be inspired to grow as individuals who have a passion for the environment (while providing them with bite-size eco-awareness along the way)! The other day we were hiking in the lovely Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve, and encountered a banana slug. While this creature could have been a quick glance and move on moment, it became a huge conversation with me and my kids. They started sharing many funny and interesting stories from their BEan in Nature camps and classes, and I felt so thankful for all they have learned.
Sometimes it takes a banana slug to center me and help me appreciate the opportunities my children have! I am so thankful that we have found a program that makes the world feel so open to my kids, all the while making me feel assured as a parent that they have strong and safe boundaries as they adventure.
As a mom who is always on the go, I struggle to slow down, but I am so thankful that BEan in Nature has helped my kids enjoy the banana slugs in life, and a benefit of being a parent in the program, I have learned to more readily put down my phone and enjoy the slugs myself.