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Feathering a Nest: Nature-Based Education for the Next Generation

Brenda L Hunter Murphy, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Half a century ago, all children played outside, many getting to know the ecosystems around them in detail, marveling at the awe and wonder of shooting stars, thick fog, the structure of snowflakes, watching bats emerge at dusk, and how spiders spin a web. Learning science, while covered in school, was much more meaningful through direct experience. Not only was it informative, but also a process that resulted in a relationship with the natural world, a connection made. As a teacher, I took students outside as often as possible. We took walks and learned to call birds, identify clouds and the weather that might follow, visit the buffalo herd, and watch bumblebees move from flower to flower. And then there was the occasional rainbow or first snow that interrupted lessons and sent us scurrying out to marvel at it. The more we went out, the more they wanted to go out. Over time, the outdoor classroom approach for bringing students into direct contact with the natural surroundings encouraged others to include outdoor forays. The approach was catching on. Creating a 50-minute program for students K-8 at a public school on a reservation, interpreting science through the cultural lens, had a more significant impact. Stories and relevant ways of viewing their world supported cultural pride. Becoming caring stewards turned them into activists for change, growing their own food, and making a difference.

Subject Area

Environmental education|Science education

Recommended Citation

Hunter Murphy, Brenda L, "Feathering a Nest: Nature-Based Education for the Next Generation" (2022). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI30000287.