Four Winds Nature Institute Programs

An Overview of Our Educational Programs

Four Winds encourages learners of all ages to look at the familiar with new eyes -- the shape of a leaf, the texture of a caterpillar, the design of a flower. Sitting quietly in a field listening to insects singing, exploring life in a pond by wading in and turning over rocks, examining the forest floor by digging under the leaf litter and smelling the rich earth, we learn about the world around us through active exploration. Four Winds educators want to help you learn about nature in your community.

Opening the Door to Discovery in Nature -- why we do what we do!

The Nature Program

One hundred schools in Vermont and neighboring states participate in this natural science program that trains adult volunteers to lead engaging, experiential lessons in classrooms and in nearby nature for children grades K-6. Throughout the school year, Four Winds's Nature Program offers monthly two-hour natural science workshops for adults interested in sharing their love of nature with elementary school children. With engaging indoor and outdoor activities and explorations, adults give young students an opportunity to study nature in their own schoolyard and neighborhood. Children learn important science concepts and practice science skills such as asking questions, making observations, recording data, and communicating information. In addition, children see that many adults care about their education, about the natural world, and about them!

See The Nature Program page for information for schools and volunteers or to find out about getting the Four Winds Nature Program in your community.

The Nature Program examines five key science standards, with eight workshops per year addressing the different concepts:

We offer a variety of program models and training workshop options to choose from. Check out The Nature Program pages for more details.


Professional Development for Educators

Four Winds professional development programs connect educators with scientists and researchers to improve students' science skills as well as content understanding. By including community-based field investigations or service learning opportunities as part of science units, teachers and content specialists create lessons that have meaning and relevance for students. Four Winds staff members serve as content specialists for classroom teachers, early childhood professionals, camp counselors, homeschool educators, after school program providers and others by assisting them in the development of inquiry-based, hands-on natural science explorations that support national and state learning standards (Next Generation Science and Common Core State Standards).


Knee High Nature -- for early childhood professionals

A nature study curriculum designed to increase children's awareness of, curiosity about, and appreciation of the natural world through investigation, creative and interactive play, and direct outdoor experiences. The Knee High Nature program provides professional development for preschool teachers, child care providers, and others who work with very young children. The workshops help early childhood professionals include more outdoor exploration in their programs and encourage families with young children to spend more time outside together.