Had I more time, this would have been a shorter list…
Backyard Nature for Children (India)
In Kerala, K B JInan runs nature sensitization courses for young children that reawaken the aesthetic sense we are born with. There is no classroom teaching. The children spend their time searching for medicinal plans, making whistles out of leaves, and story-telling.
Tree People (USA)
Has worked with over 4,000 schools and reached over 150,000 students with unique environmental education approach.
Natural Play (Forestry Commission, Scotland)
By Leslie Groves with Hugh McNish. Natural play within school grounds was piloted by Forestry Commission Scotland at Merrylee primary school in partnership with Glasgow City Council as part of its efforts to allow children to play and interact with trees and the natural environment on a daily basis.
Center For Ecoliteracy (USA)
The Center for Ecoliteracy brings together inspiring educators, scientists, artists, and activists for residential seminars that explore a new model of education that connects emotional, social, and ecological intelligence.
Straw Project (USA)
An award-winning watershed education program called Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed (STRAW) that started in 1992 as the Shrimp Club in Laurette Rogers’ 4th grade classroom. STRAW coordinates and sustains a network of teachers, students, restoration specialists and other community members to plan and implement watershed studies and restoration projects in Marin, Sonoma, Solano and Napa counties.
An educational initiative that opens a meaningful conversation about food and sustainability in schools and communities. To inform and inspire the largest number of people, Nourish combines PBS television, curriculum resources, web content, short films, and teacher and youth seminars. To maximize the effectiveness of Nourish, WorldLink is collaborating with more than 50 organizations to create a sustainable food future.
Into the Field: A Guide to Locally Focused Learning
Curriculum ideas for taking their students out of doors. The book is both theoretical and practical, combining pedagogical background on why field work enhances educational experiences with the nuts and bolts details of how one gets started.
Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators
Noted educator David Sobel makes the case that meaningful connections with the natural world don’t begin in the rainforest or arctic, but in our own backyards and communities. Based on his observations of recurrent play themes around the world, Sobel articulates seven design principles that can guide teachers in structuring learning experiences for children.
Outdoor Classrooms by Carolyn Nuttall and Janet Millington
For teachers and home educators who want to incorporate outdoor education at all levels of the school curriculum, with an emphasis on: setting up vegetable gardens; teaching children about growing food; economic concerns; human and planetary health and future sustainability
Restoration of Natural Systems, Victoria, Canada
Not strictly an alternative to university – but distance learning, so just eligible. Its holistic approach recognizes the importance of both the social and biophysical dimensions of environmental restoration.
Ecology Imagination in Childhood by Edith Cobb.
By Edith Cobb (book). She sees the child to be innately connected with the natural world. Inner powers alone do not further the imagination. Her book remains an important philosophical meditation on the importance of children’s deep experience of nature to their adult cognition and psychological well-being.
Thirteen Eco Schools
Carla Mayumi (book/pdf) (in Portuguese): Cieja Campo Limpo || Amorim Lima e Politeia, Sao Paulo || CPCD, MInsa Gerais, Brazil ||Escuelas Experimentales, Provb da terra do Fogo, Argentina || Quest To Learn, NYC ||North Star, Massachusetts || YIP, Jarna, Sweden || || Team Academy, Basque, Spain || Schumacher College || Sustainability Institute, Stelenbosch, South Africa || Riverside School, Gujarat, India || Green School, Bali ||
Wilderness Awareness / Coyote Guide
“Our ancestors’ children didn’t go to school: School surrounded them. Nature was a living teacher”. This guide passes on the method of invisible schooling, so that people connect with nature without knowing it. They soak up the language of plants and animals as naturally as any of us learned our native language.
Childrens Permaculture Resource Network
Print material, online resources, history, and support to further expand the network of childhood education. Books, zines, and pamphlets for children, parents, and educators. Topics include Permaculture, Primitive Skills, Gardening, DIY, and Self-Sufficiency among others.
Ecoliterate. How Educators Are Cultivating Emotional, Social, and Ecological Intelligence
A Professional Development Guide and Exploration of Five Practices of Engaged Ecoliteracy.
Wiston Lodge, Scotland, Certified Leave No Trace Awareness Training
Litter, disturbance to vegetation, water pollution, impacts on wildlife, livestock and other people are all indicators of the need to develop an outdoor ethic that protects both natural and cultural heritage.
Ecological games reviewed and tested (in Beta)
The Nature Principle Field Guide by Richard Louv
With many useful links. Sections on: Creating a Restorative Home & Garden; Creating a Natural Health Care System for Your Family and Community; Be a Citizen Naturalist; Know Who You Are by Knowing Where You Are; Creating Restorative Neighborhoods and Cities; Urban Agriculture and the New Agrarians; Natural Teachers and Restorative Schools; Strengthen Family and Community Bonding Through Nature; The Nature Principle in Business
Exploring a Sense Of Place
Provides the means by which people anywhere on Earth can reconnect to the natural world where they live. ESP is inspired by Wendell Berry’s observation, “You can’t know who you are until you know where you are.” ESP helps people know where they are through its leadership training and local courses in several bioregions. ESP publishes the Exploring a Sense of Place guidebook.
Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning: Using the Outdoors as an Instructional Tool
How-to advice on using school grounds and natural areas beyond the campus as outdoor classrooms, including lessons and activities for teaching content and developing skills in experiencing, observing, and learning from nature. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers, 2007.
Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation
An extensively illustrated tour of innovative schoolyard projects around the world, including edible gardens, wildlife habitats, rainwater catchment systems, energy generation projects, and creative play areas, with advice, technical resources, ideas and frameworks that can be adapted to a variety of settings.
Teaching the Food System
From the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, this free downloadable curriculum for high school teachers covers food system topics from field to plate for today’s modern classroom. The curriculum, developed by former teachers and content experts, emphasizes the relationships among food, public health, equity and the environment.
Permaculture Design Game (and other materials)
Guide to Education for Sustainability
The Vermont Guide to Education for Sustainability reflects the changing field of education for sustainability and shares new strategies learned by the Sustainable Schools Project.
Mud Baron, Los Angeles
“I take care of teachers who teach gardening. Currently, I’m trying to re-professionalize the support of Agriculture and Gardening Programs within the LAUSD. Oh my. My clients have predictable needs in the garden: soil, irrigation, tools and of course, plants. I source those in reliable and affordable quantities.
Green Rabbits, NYC
Claire Hartten is a designer whose work deals with the relationships between food, agriculture, society, and the natural environment. Claire co-founded the Dirt Café, an experimental project that uses social interaction to solve problems creatively.
School Garden ABCs
A forum for parents, educators and community members seeking guidance, resources, fundraising, networking and teaching support to start and maintain learning gardens. Infiormation on books, grants, tools, lesson plans and more. Run by freelance writer Anne Nagro of Gurnee.
Farm To School
Connects schools (K-12) and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers.
Meet The Trees Foundation (North Carolina)
Take Me Fishing (National Parks) // Credo | Mobilize // Illinois Young Birders // Rise // Change.org //
Discover The Forest // Center for Snake Conservation // North Carolina Children and Nature Coalition
Minnesota Environmental Education Association
Serves environmental education professionals, students, K-12 educators, and supporters of EE in Minnesota through: an annual conference; acknowledging successful EE programs and professionals; supporting legislation that advances EE at the state and federal level; sharing resources among its members (blog)
Travel and service programs for students and families in some of the world’s most welcoming countries. Rustic Pathways “enrich the lives of our students and our staff, benefit the parts of the world we serve, and build cultural bridges that lead to greater global understanding and cooperation”.
A sanctuary of natural beauty and peace located on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington State. The internship structure is based on the theosophical premise that a well-balanced life includes elements of study, meditation & service.
Helps teenagers use self-directed learning in a network of closely related projects across the country and around the world. The primary goal is to support teenagers feeling trapped in school to use homeschooling as a mechanism to stop attending school.
An independent, democratic, and outdoor center for children set up with the purpose of immersing children in stimulating environments and harmonious learning communities
Global Village School
A progressive, accredited, customizable K-12 homeschooling program via online and text-based curriculum, complete with individualized teacher services. Its Whole Child, Healthy Planet K8 curriculum guides and our high school homeschool diploma courses integrate peace, justice, and diversity studies with the core subjects.
No Child Left Inside
A coalition of environmental, educational, and public health organizations, businesses, civic organizations and other public enterprises.
Growing Power (USA)
Transforms communities by supporting people from diverse backgrounds and the environments in which they live through the development of Community Food Systems. Its founder, Will Allen, son of a sharecropper, former professional basketball player, ex-corporate sales leader and now farmer, has become recognized as among the preeminent thinkers of our time on agriculture and food policy.
School Garden Wizard
Chicago Botanic Garden
Cloud Institute (USA)
Transforms the evolving thinking and skills of the most important champions of sustainability into educational materials and a pedagogical system that inspires young people to think about the world, their relationship to it, and their ability to influence it in an entirely new way.
Phipps Conservatory (USA)
Meaningful connections with the natural world don’t begin in the rainforest or arctic, but in our own backyards and communities. At the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, urban naturalist Molly Steinwald is reimagining environmental education in this spirit. Steinwald’s basic assumption is that the natural world is crawling past you on the sidewalk or drifting through the air right under your nose.
Ecoliteracy Training For Teachers (Turkey)
In Turkey, hundreds of teachers across the country are being certified as ecoliteracy instructors in a programme that spans subjects from soil erosion to ethical forestry. Their classroom is an arboretum. Sponsored by the Ministry of Education and the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, Reforestation, and the Protection of Natural Habitats (TEMA), the project aims to certify 300 teachers over the next four years.
Ecology Center (San Francisco)
Introducing Permaculture, natural building, and lots of other cool things to kids. Their website contains many resources.
Natural Teachers Network
Natural Teachers Network shares access to regularly updated research, tools, activities and resources. Research connecting nature to education; download the C&NN report, Children’s Contact With the Outdoors and Nature: A Focus on Educators and Educational Settings. [PDF]
Project Learning Tree and Project WILD (USA)
Professional resource programs, tie nature-oriented concepts to all major school subjects, requirements, and skill areas. The National Environmental Education and Training Foundation’s Classroom Earth maintains a directory of environmental education programs and resources for K-12 teachers, parents, and students.
National Wildlife Refuge (USA)
Offers teacher training and other educational opportunities.
National Audubon Society (USA)
To green your schoolyard, look at programs such as Evergreen in Canada, and National Wildlife Federation’s Schoolyard Habitats. Check out the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide.
National Wildlife Federation Eco-School (USA)
Pathways to help schools become an Eco-School.Consider initiating or supporting nature-based public, charter, or independent K-12 schools that place community and direct experience in nature at the center of the curriculum.
Antioch’s Center for Place-based Education (USA)
Partnerships between students, teachers, and community members that strengthen and support student achievement, community vitality, and a healthy environment.
Food Tank: 14 Initiatives Educating Youth About Agriculture (USA)
By Danielle Nierenberg and Katie Work. According to Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, in the United States alone, elementary school students only receive an average of 3.4 hours of food education per year. But there is hope…
Edible Schoolyard Project (USA)
Kids are excited to get involved in building gardens, like the one that began the Edible Schoolyard Project in Berkeley, California. Co-founded 17 years ago by Alice Waters, famous chef and Vice-President of Slow Food International, the project brings together students, teachers, parents, and community members to to grow more than 100 varieties of crops. The schoolyard now boasts a chicken coop and two rainwater cisterns.
Farm Africa (Kenya)
A farm training program for rural Kenyan youth, growing vegetables, mushrooms, and passionfruit. Also teaches students how to get the best price at market and encourages them to get involved in local governance.
The FARM Institute (Martha’s Vineyard, USA)
The institute provides education about sustainable farming to children and adults. Located in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, the FARM Institute encourages experiential learning–kids learn by actively growing, preparing, and eating food on the farm. http://www.farminstitute.org
The Farming Kindergarten (Vietnam)
Scheduled to open in September 2013, the Farming Kindergarten in Dong Nai, Vietnam, is designed as a prototype of tropical sustainable education spaces. It will provide food and agriculture experience and a safe outdoor playground to Vietnamese children in a suburb of Ho Chi Minh City.
Green Youth Farm (Chicago)
Every year, the Chicago-based Green Youth Farm hires 60 high school students from ages 15 to 18 to work from mid-May to mid-October on an organic farm, managing bees, selling produce at markets, and cooking with the produce they’ve grown.
Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution
Jamie Oliver’s organization has been drawing national attention to the problem of unhealthy school meals and the lack of food-related education children receive in school. Along with improving school meals, Oliver’s program has launched a network of community kitchens that provide cooking classes, in-school cooking lessons for kids, and support to parents lobbying schools for better food.
Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools (JFFLS)
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO), has programs in Kenya, Uganda, Antigua, and Barbuda in Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools as part of their “Strategic Plan for Youth Development/Involvement in Agriculture.” FAO and ILO aim to foster market demand for sustainable food while providing youth with tools to begin growing their own sustainable food.
Mexico Child Link
Provides a home for a small group of abandoned children and children with learning disabilities on a working farm. The children learn skills such as intercropping, animal husbandry, and cheese-making.
The Natwani Coalition (Arizona)
Gets Native American children involved with traditional Hopi dry-farming practices, including a video-based curriculum and several school gardens. Students from the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health are also starting community gardens and school gardens on a Navajo reservation.
A website dedicated to seeds, biodiversity, and food, Seedmap.org features an interactive map that shows seed diversity, threats to the planet’s biodiversity, and solutions. KIds and adults can look at the site to learn about the state of agro-biodiversity all over the world.
The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) Puerto Rico
Grants and education program advances agricultural innovation that promotes profitability, stewardship of the land, air and water, and quality of life for farmers, ranchers and their communities. This year’s projects included “Weed Management and Nematode Communities in Organic Coffee Farms of Puerto Rico” and “Internship on Mapping Sustainable Farm Systems: An experiential introduction to sustainable agriculture.”
Sprouting Healthy Kids (TEXAS)
The Sustainable Food Center brings gardens and fresh produce to 22 schools throughout central Texas. Sprouting Healthy Kids serves fresh fruits and vegetables in school, teaches classroom lessons about food systems, and provides after-school gardening and cooking programs.
The Sylvia Center (NEW YORK)
The Sylvia Center, based in New York, teaches children about sustainable food production. Cooking classes are hosted in New York City, and at Katchkie Farm in Columbia County, a 60-acre organic farm, students learn how to grow, harvest, and cook fresh produce.
Connecting Children With Nature
Environmental Education Week (USA)
Since its inception in 2005, EE Week has reached millions of students and educators across the United States with non-biased, high-quality, environmental education materials grounded in accurate, timely scientific information and tied to local, state and national learning standards. The 2014 theme IS Greening STEM: Engineering a Sustainable World,
Close To Home (SAN FRANCISCO)
Inner City Outings
Avalon Sustainabilityu School (Alta Garrotxam, Gerona, Spanish Pyrenees)
Inspired by the ancestral Vision Quest rite of passage tradition, Create Your Quest (Sept 2014) is an invitation for you to “become silent, listen and reconnect with a deep understanding of your life’s purpose. This age-old practice serves to help discover what you are here for, what you can give and above all gain direction and power for life”. e1,000
Grail (South Africa)
Training for Transformation, designed for community development workers, is founded on the philosophy that there is need for a new generation of leaders in development who are self-motivated and whose thinking and practice is grounded in communities’ realities. Training for Transformation recognizes the importance of linking local and national initiatives to the global civic movement.
Teaching Drum School (Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest) (CANADA)
The school’s mission is to function as a bridge to the wisdom and lifeway skills of our native ancestors (which we call the Old Way), that we may reconnect with our intrinsic selves and relearn how to live honorably and respectfully with each other and the earth. The Wilderness Guide, Guardian Training, and Wild Moon wilderness living experiences of their kind were created because the modern way of life has isolated us from the Earth, each other, and our intrinsic selves.
Ecoraiz (Mexico / Taller 13)
Raiz has the pleasure of working with top thinkers in their fields to develop our workshop-expeditions. This June, we are honored to be working with Holger Hieronimi who will be giving the Sinergia Food Forests Workshop in La Chinantla, Oaxaca.
15 Scottish delegates from Learning and Teaching Scotland’s Scottish Continuing International Professional Development (SCIPD) group were in Norway to investigate Outdoor learning in Arctic Norway with the aim of applying aspects of what we have learned to improve practice in Scottish schools and early years settings.
Long Green House (USA)
A cross-cultural partnership for regeneration of social and ecological networks and webs, involving the Anikwom WholeLife Center, UMaine Permaculture Club, and Still Water Lab at UMaine. LongGreenHouse weaves together indigenous culture, permaculture, and digital culture in this bioregion based on the intersection of evolutionary wisdom, natural patterns, and social networking. LongGreenHouse includes a multi-age integrated homeschool, Wassookeag, based on an experiential and ecological curriculum; operates a Permaculture research lab for UMaine graduate and undergrads; develops and implements protocol for Longhouse living in partnership with Wabanaki elders; and develops global social networks with state-of-the-art network technologies.
Living Education Group
The Living Education Movement encompasses not only formal educational processes such as schools but also community revitalization. We facilitate processes that enable colleges and universities to integrate sustainable philosophy, practices, programs, and structures throughout the organization so education becomes responsive to the emerging potential for transforming the world. We do this by working with individuals, schools, and communities to see their interrelationships so that a common aim can be fostered among all members of the community both in the college/university and in the greater place. Students then are able to apply this pattern-learning to any field of endeavor and be innovative leaders of a new thought technology with sustainability at its core.
Echoing Seeds – Central America
A year long international program bringing together 18 to 25 year olds from first and third world countries. Through learning about organic farming, indigenous building, language, and philanthropic work students will not only learn about themselves but will be empowered and required to create a project that adds value to their community or the community in which the school resides.
Boulder Outdoors Survival School
The oldest and largest traditional living skills / survival school in the world. Since 1968, we have offered adventurous souls the chance to learn indigenous skills in an active, hands-on environment. Courses range from 3-28 days in length and take place in the spectacular landscape of Southern Utah.
Rural Education and Agroecology Rural School, Tenza Valley, Colombia
An alternative space, a community-based process of knowledge and dialogue, that is woven into the educational community regardless of academic qualifications in order to collectively develop knowledge and skills about agri-food and environmental problems of the region, proposing alternative organizational, production and improvement in the welfare of rural communities to strengthen cultural identity and territorial belonging.
ArborVitae School of Traditional Herbalism
Claudia Keel and Richard Mandelbaum, NYC
Partners with businesses to implement customized sabbatical programs that attract, retain, and accelerate top talent through personal and professional enrichment.
Conway School (USA)
Ten months of intensive, specialized graduate study that will prepare you to work as a designer/planner on important real-world projects by working on important, real-world projects—as a student, with the support of teachers who are seasoned professionals.
34 Alternatives to University or Design School in Europe
24 Alternatives to University and Design School in Africa and Australasia
50 Alternatives to University and Design School in the Americas & Canada