Guidelines for Excellence Workshops

Guidelines for Excellence

Minnesota Association for Environmental Education

Explore and Engage with the NAAEE Guidelines for Excellence!

Refresh and deepen your skills, enthusiasm, and connections with a deep dive into NAAEE’s best practices in your field! Whether you are an environmental educator, administrator, or program developer, don’t miss this opportunity to learn about best practices in quality environmental education programs from some of the leaders in the EE field.  Hands-on experiences and discussion will be led by Sheila Williams Ridge, a director of the Child Development Lab School at the University of Minnesota Lab School, and Bora Simmons, director of NAAEE's National Project for Excellence in Environmental Education at the University of Oregon.


DATE: Saturday, April 30, 2022

9:30am - 12:30pm:  Early Childhood Environmental Education Workshop

12:30pm - 1:30pm:  Environmental Educator Networking Lunch

1:30pm - 4:30pm:  Environmental Education Programs Workshop


LOCATION: Hyland Lake Park Reserve Visitor Center, 10145 E. Bush Lake Rd., Bloomington, MN

COST: $20 per half-day workshop

LUNCH OPTION: A networking lunchtime will be available, with potential to order a boxed lunch



Session Descriptions:

SESSION 1:  9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Early Childhood Environmental Education Programs: Guidelines for Excellence

In this half-day workshop, participants will engage in a series of hands-on exercises to explore key characteristics of high-quality early childhood environmental education programs and possible implications for curriculum development and evaluation. Whether you are starting your own nature preschool or assessing and improving an existing program, be prepared to engage with others in strategically evaluating recommendations for developing and administering a program that addresses developmentally appropriate practices in early childhood.

Each participant will receive a copy of Early Childhood Environmental Education Programs: Guidelines for Excellence.

LUNCH:  12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Join us for a networking lunch and connect with other educators!

SESSION 2:  1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Environmental Education Programs: Guidelines for Excellence

This half-day exploration of these newly revised guidelines will inspire and inform practice for environmental education programs at nature centers, zoos, museums, parks departments, and more. Whether you’re looking to build a firm foundation for a new program or inform improvements in an existing program, come ready to discuss characteristics of high-quality programs, need assessments and audience opportunities, program design and delivery based on capacities and appropriateness for your mission, and ongoing evaluation of your program.

Each participant will receive a copy of Environmental Education Programs: Guidelines for Excellence.


To Register:


We are so thrilled to present our facilitators, who were part of the writing team for both of these sets of the Guidelines for Excellence:

Sheila Williams Ridge

Sheila Williams Ridge is a Director at the Child Development Lab School at the University of Minnesota. A former educator at the Dodge Nature Center preschool and a past recipient of the NAAEE Director’s Award, Sheila has over twenty-five years of experience as an early childhood administrator, nonprofit administrator, and preschool teacher/naturalist. She is a facilitator for the NAEYC Young Children and Nature Interest Forum and serves on a variety of boards and leadership teams including Voices and Choices for Children of MN, Minneapolis Nature Preschool, Monarch Joint Venture, Dodge Nature Center, Before Racism, Environmental Kinship International, and the Natural Start Alliance. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology, and a graduate degree in education. Sheila is co-author of the book, Nature-Based Learning for Young Children: Anytime, Anywhere, on Any Budget, published by Redleaf Press, and is passionate about encouraging nature-based play throughout the seasons and the lasting developmental benefits of a relationship between children and nature.


Bora Simmons

Bora Simmons directs the National Project for Excellence in Environmental Education, an initiative of the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). The Project draws on the insights of educators across the United States and around the world to craft guidelines for quality environmental education practice. After twenty years as a professor of environmental education at Northern Illinois University, Bora moved the Project to the Institute for a Sustainable Environment at the University of Oregon. Bora has been actively involved in research, evaluation, and professional development for over forty years. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, was president of NAAEE, serves on numerous advisory committees and boards of directors, including NAAEE’s Advisory Council, and consults for the PBS KIDS show Cyberchase. She was an executive editor of the Journal of Environmental Education and an associate editor of the International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education. Bora earned a BA in Anthropology from UC Berkeley, an MS in Natural Resources from Humboldt State University, and a PhD in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan.