The Orfalea Foundation’s Santa Barbara County Outdoor Classroom Project was showcased at a national convening last week for educators from around the globe.
The session, entitled “Transforming Our Approach to ECE at the Regional Level: The Orfalea Foundation’s Six Year-Long Outdoor Classroom Project Initiative in Santa Barbara County,” was part of the annual conference for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
The focus of the workshop was how to develop and establish Outdoor Classroom approaches and environments that enhance and sustain quality improvement in a region. It featured work that engaged 83% of Santa Barbara County’s 174 centers and continues to impact young children across the county today.
Orfalea Foundation Early Childhood Education Director Adrianna Foss, Outdoor Classroom Project Director Eric Nelson, and Outdoor Classroom Project Coordinator Theresa Embry discussed the need for focusing on the quantity, quality and benefits of outdoor experiences for young children in early childhood settings, and how the project was implemented with such widespread benefit.
Sharing their experiences with the Outdoor Classroom Project were Santa Barbara County center directors and teachers Cheri Diaz (Hope 4 Kids), Irene Buzzard (Cathedral Oaks Preschool), Lisa Scoggins (Circle of Friends Preschool) and Anne-Marie Soltysik-Webb (Orfalea Early Learning Center at Santa Barbara City College).