Nature-based preschools are powerful programs that fuse early childhood and environmental education to develop a child's lifelong connection with the natural world. With the number of this unique, cutting-edge program growing throughout the country, many nature centers are asking, Is a nature-based preschool right for us? Establishing a Nature-Based Preschool helps answer that question, and provides a how-to guide to move from concept to implementation.
Rachel Larimore is the director of education at the Chippewa Nature Center (CNC). She has been with CNC since 2001, and her duties include coordinating all youth programs (school programs, nature day camp, scouts, nature preschool, etc). She implemented all of the on-the-ground work to take the Nature Preschool from a vision to a reality in 2007-a program that now serves more than eighty three- and four-year-old children. She also co-chaired the nature center's $6 million expansion project, which was completed in 2010. In addition to renovations to the visitor center, the expansion included an approximately 5,000-square-foot preschool building. Rachel received a M.A. in park and recreation administration from Central Michigan University and B.S. in natural resource recreation and tourism, with an emphasis in interpretation, from Colorado State University. Raised on a vegetable farm in central Illinois, Rachel knows first hand the positive impact that nature plays in a child's development.