Northeast Indiana Workshop: Exploring the Nature of Forest Schools

Northeast Indiana Workshop: Exploring the Nature of Forest Schools
Registration Begins
7/10/2023 8:00 AM
Last Day To Register
2/19/2024 12:00 PM
2152 S 425 W
Albion, IN 46701, US
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Join Merry Lea and the Forest School Teacher Institute (FSTI) for a two-day immersion into nature-based learning environments. At the core of this professional development opportunity will be multiple site visits to observe preschool and elementary children and their teachers engaging with nature in intentional ways.

Conversations and deep-dives into relevant topics including: 

  • What does observation and assessment look like in the forest?
  • What is the teacher’s role in outdoor classrooms?
  • How does free play contribute to academic success?
  • What is it about nature’s classroom that engages children so deeply?
  • What does the research say about the worth of this type of experience for children in today’s world?
  • Do I have to be a naturalist to take children into nature?
  • How might this look in my neck of the woods? 


All-inclusive Fee: $175 covers workshop registration, dorm-style lodging* on Merry Lea’s campus for Wednesday and Thursday night, and all (5) meals. *Registration is REQUIRED for this event.

Opportunities will include:

  • Self-selected site visits (3): public school, Montessori school, homeschool, community garden, nature center, backyard, and church affiliated.
  • Real-time application of observation and assessment strategies.
  • Networking and dialogue with school founders and nature-based practitioners.
  • Learning extensions on these topics: naturalist studies, forest teacher certification, curriculum resources, emergent learning, risk/benefit analysis, child development benefits, and defining principles of nature-based learning. 

(Optional): Upon completion of this two day in-person workshop, participants may complete additional coursework to attain a Forest School Teacher Certificate. (Coursework includes five, 90-minute webinars and a self-directed project)  Additional fee: $425 (Payable to FSTI). Contact Joe Pounds at the Forest School Teacher Institute for more information –

*Lodging: Dorm-style lodging accommodations are on-site at Rieth Village on Merry Lea's property.  Accommodations allow two people per room and include a shared bathroom space, living room and small kitchenette. Bedding and towels are not provided.  


Two nights of lodging are included in the workshop fee. This fixed workshop fee cannot be adjusted based on a participant’s decision to stay overnight or not.   Participants desiring alternative accommodation in area hotels or at home may do so at their own expense (this will not affect workshop price).

Statement on financial accessibility: If financial limitations prevent you from participating in this workshop, please contact Marcos Stoltzfus at Merry Lea to discuss scholarship or sliding-scale options:

Schedule Overview:

Wednesday, February 21

Evening arrival and overnight stay (4 - 7 pm EST)

Optional session at 7:00 pm EST: Naturalist Studies - Night Hikes and Campfires (optional)


Thursday, February 22

Morning and afternoon site visits of choice

Sessions: Forest School Benefits and Principles, Observations and Assessments, Risk/Benefit Assessment, Forest School Film Screening


Friday, February 23

Morning site visit of choice

Session: Program Development Back Home – What is possible? What is feasible? What is sustainable?

Departure 2:00 p.m. 

Contact E-mail
$175.00 per Adult
Cancellation Policy

Reservations for Merry Lea's programs can fill quickly, and quality experiences require the help of staff and advance preparation. A last minute cancellation is disruptive and may prevent a wait-listed participant from coming.

If you cancel a program that involves Merry Lea educators, you will be refunded:

  • A full refund if participant cancels one week prior to a program
  • A 50% refund if participant cancels from six days to 24 hours before a program
  • No refund if participant cancels less than 24 hours prior to a program

If Merry Lea cancels a program (due to dangerous weather, low enrollment or unforeseen emergencies) a full refund will be issued.
*Please note: refunds are issued through the Goshen College accounting office, and may take up to 3 weeks to process.