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Nebraska Nature Action Collaborative for Children (NeNACC)

Nature Education for Young Children:
The Nature Action Collaborative for Children (NeNACC)

Nebraska child and family-serving organizations and agencies are working together as a catalyst for change – to realize a vision that all young Nebraska children and their families will have daily opportunities to engage in the natural world. NeNACC embraces the mission of the World Forum’s Nature Action Collaborative for Children: to re-connect children with the natural world by making developmentally appropriate nature education a sustaining and enriching part of the daily lives of the world’s children.

The NeNACC leadership team members are collaborating to develop nature sites at early childhood programs (homes and centers) and schools and also supporting the use of developmentally appropriate activities and curriculum in these settings. They are promoting nature classrooms and public spaces that lend themselves to family engagement in nature experiences. Information resources are disseminated in support of this work. The team encourages interaction, creative thinking, and action among those who are dedicated to young children’s lives and the responsible stewardship of the earth.

Goals of the NeNACC

  1. Promoting effective practices in nature education for infants, toddlers, pre-school, elementary children and their families/caregivers/teachers.
  2. Developing an interactive networking system to insure informational, fiscal and human resource alignment to support site implementation
  3. Facilitating the linking of stakeholders for the purpose of generating new in-sight and knowledge.

Highlights of the NeNACC

  • The NeNACC partnered with the Nebraska Department of Education, the World Forum- Nature Action Collaborative for Children, and the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education to issue, at the international 2008 Working Forum on Nature Education, Call to Action: Reconnecting the World’s Children to Nature.
  • NeNACC is also promoting Connecting Children to Nature, a supplement to the Nebraska Early Learning Guidelines. Suggestions for the environment, age-activities, and interaction are highlighted across seven domains of early learning.
  • Websites are maintained by each of the leadership team partners to offer an array of practical ideas, professional development activities, the evidence about children and nature, and many other resources.

The NeNACC Leadership Team

National Arbor Day Foundation
Dimensions Educational Research Foundation
Nature Explore
Nebraska Department of Education
Nebraska Early Childhood Training Center
Nebraska Association for the Education of Young Children
Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

History of NeNACC

This Nebraska network was initiated in 2006 in response to the Working Forum on Nature Education that was hosted in Nebraska at Arbor Day Farm. The leadership team was inspired to partner for action that would promote the reconnection of young children to their natural world. This work is being done through individual’s volunteer efforts and strategies that attract funding of selected projects. The leadership team continues to explore how they can replicate and sustain the work throughout the state. The leadership team is considering how to effectively engage others in this Nebraska collaborative.

For further information on nature education, contact Linda Bray, training coordinator at the Early Childhood Training Center.

Return to the nature education index page.

Outdoor Classroom Sites in Nebraska

Nature Education for Young Children: Using Outdoor Spaces

Outdoor Classroom Sites in Nebraska

The Nebraska Nature Action Collaborative for Children (NeNACC) sponsors are partnering to develop Nebraska sites in early childhood programs, elementary schools, or home child care centers that will become part of the national network of Nature Explore Classrooms. These sites are intended to serve as demonstration sites for other programs wishing to use nature as an integral part of children’s daily learning. Visit the Nebraska Association for the Education of Young Children’s Web site for a complete description of the Nature Explore project and for a listing of Nebraska outdoor classroom sites.

Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood was founded in 2005 in Omaha, and has a long-term goal of developing and operating a multi-state network of nature preschools embedded within small children’s nature centers that stress play-based nature experiences in all their activities. A booklet entitled A Parent’s Guide to Nature Play is available to download.

Montessori Children’s Room in Omaha teaches children the importance of caring for the environment and developing a respect for nature. Each classroom leads out to a beautiful outdoor classroom where children have the opportunity to interact with nature on a daily basis.

Children and Nature in our Parks, located in Gering, Nebraska, is a regional coalition of agencies that promotes quality outdoor educational learning opportunities for students and families utilizing the parks and natural settings of western Nebraska.

For further information on nature education, contact Linda Bray, training coordinator at the Early Childhood Training Center.

Return to the nature education index page.

Nature Education for Young Children: Research

American Academy of Pediatrics report stresses the importance of play.
Thigpen, Betsy. "Outdoor play: combating sedentary lifestyles". Zero to Three 28:1(September 2007): 19-23.

Dimensions Educational Research Foundation. The mission of the Dimensions Educational Research Foundation is to inspire children, families and educators to connect more deeply with the world around them. We do this by providing innovative, research-based programs and resources.

Interaction with Nature During the Middle Years: Its Importance in Children’s Development and Nature’s Future. This article by Randy White is featured on this page. Links to other research articles on the topic of nature education can be found on the page’s sidebar.

Nature Conservancy Study Finds Today’s Kids Are Choosing TV Over Trees is a summary of an article recently published by the organization in the Journal of Environmental Management.

The Nature-Child Reunion is an article by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods.

For further information on nature education, contact Linda Bray, training coordinator at the Early Childhood Training Center.

Return to the nature education index page.


Nature Education for Young Children: Workshops

A number of organizations will be offering nature education workshops and training opportunities.

Green Hearts presents workshops about landscape design for nature play and can create custom nature related documents upon request.

Green Hour is a resource for parents and caregivers who want to add the exploration of the natural world to their daily lives. Green Hour is a program of the National Wildlife Federation.

M.O.R.E. Nature (Metro Omaha Resources for Exploring Nature) is a collaborative initiative to bring more outdoor, nature-based play to the children of the Greater Omaha area. This group hosts workshops to help parents and children become more comfortable with natural play. A monthly calendar on this group’s Web site lists a variety of of nature experiences and opportunities.

Nature Explore™ regularly offers training sessions on age-appropriate methods for reconnecting young children with nature. A schedule of workshops can be found at

The White Hutchinson Leisure and Learning Group in Kansas City is a multi-disciplinary consulting, design, and family-and-child-oriented organization that focuses on recreational and learning facilities of all types. This organization will provide training and consultation for child care centers, preschools, Head Start and Early Head Start centers to create natural playgrounds and play gardens.

For further information on nature education, contact Linda Bray, training coordinator at the Early Childhood Training Center.

Return to the nature education index page.

Nature Education Resources

Bill Moyers’ Journal. For 15 years, Kaiulani Lee has been touring around the country with the play she wrote and performs called A Sense of Wonder, a one-woman show in which Ms. Lee embodies biologist Rachel Carson circa 1963, just as her book ‘Silent Spring’ begins to get significant public attention. Here you can read the transcript of Moyers’ interview with her or watch the video.

Canadian Biodiversity Institute helps schools transform their grounds into stimulating, biologically-diverse outdoor classrooms and healthy, enjoyable play and social spaces.

Children with ADHD benefit from time outdoors enjoying nature, an article by Jim Barlow, life sciences editor of the Champaign-Urbana News Gazette.

The Children and Nature Network was created to encourage and support the people and organizations working to reconnect children with nature. The Network provides access to the latest news and research in the field and a peer-to-peer network of researchers and individuals, educators and organizations dedicated to children’s health and well-being.

Go Green: Education for the Ecosystem. This site on education for the ecosystem includes a roster of green heroes, plus lesson plans, service-learning opportunities, a Go Green Database, and more.

Green Hour offers outdoor tips and ideas for parents and caregivers. is a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to restoring and strengthening the bonds between children and nature.

Growing Up Wild stems from the Council for Environmental Education’s award winning wildlife-based education program, Project WILD. In its 20 year history, over one million educators have participated in Project WILD training. Key components addressed in Project WILD include science and inquiry.

The Jane Goodall Institute advances the power of individuals to take informed and compassionate action to improve the environment of all living things. It publishes a newsletter called Roots and Shoots.

KinderNature is a resource for early childhood educators on nature education.

Learning with Nature Idea Book, a resource from Dimensions Educational Research Foundation.

Message in a Backpack: Spending Time Outdoors with Your Child is a parent/teacher handout from the National Association for the Education of Young Children. It is available in English and Spanish.

Mindstretchers is a young company, made up of a group of people who are dedicated to working in a multi sensory environment with children. We have worked together to design, produce and source a range of resources that will hopefully motivate and inspire children and adults to learn.

M.O.R.E. Nature is a collaborative initiative to bring more outdoor, nature-based play to the children of the Greater Omaha area.

National Arbor Day Foundation inspires people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. The Arbor Day Foundation partners with Dimensions to offer Nature Explore Classrooms.

Natural Teachers Network honors, supports and provides tools to educators who take their students outside to learn.

Natural Wonders is a guide to early childhood for environmental educators. The link will take you to a downloadable copy.

Nature Grounds: Putting Nature into Play. Access this great Web site to search for the right type of plant to grow in your play area. Search by region/state, plant type, and other variables. The database uses the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hardiness Zone Map to determine specific categories of plant life capable of growing in a specified area.

The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum has as its mission to "enrich lives through the beauty and wonder of plants."

The Neem Foundation is a people’s movement. It is an initiative that involves caring citizens of the world who would like to make a difference, who would like to lend their voices to turn the tide toward a greener, safer lifestyle.

Orion Magazine is the publication of the Orion Society. It is Orion’s fundamental conviction that humans are morally responsible for the world in which we live, and that the individual comes to sense this responsibility as he or she develops a personal bond with nature.

The Outdoor Classroom Project has as its goal to increase the quantity, quality, and benefit of outdoor experiences for children, birth to five, in Los Angeles.

A Parents’ Guide to Nature and Play is a concise, 20-page booklet written by Ken Finch for Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood to help parents learn about what makes great nature play, why it is important, and how you can restore it to your children’s daily lives.

Planet Earth Playscapes is an organization that creates one-of-a-kind, natural, community built, play and learning environments for children. The playscapes are a combination of free-flowing grassy hills, trees, sculptures, boulders, herbs, sand and water and more. They are safe, developmentally appropriate, and accessible for children of all abilities.

Project Learning Tree. Discover a multidisciplinary environmental education program created by the American Forest Foundation. Explore the website for a variety of resources developed for preK-12 students on topics ranging from forests, wildlife, and water to community planning, waste management, and energy. is a gateway to rainforest education information, including a collection of Web sites for children.

Time Out: Using the Outdoors to Enhance Classroom Performance—A School Readiness Guide for Teachers and Parents is a publication written by Kevin J. Coyle, Vice President of Education and Training for the National Wildlife Federation.

The mission of the World Forum Foundation is to promote an on-going global exchange of ideas on the delivery of quality services for young children in diverse settings. This mission is accomplished through convening gatherings of early childhood professionals around the world and by promoting the continuing exchange of ideas among participants.

For further information on nature education, contact Linda Bray, training coordinator at the Early Childhood Training Center.

Return to the nature education index page.

Participating Colleges

Participating Colleges and Universities Offering HeadsUp! Reading Credit

Four-Year Programs

Chadron State College
Kim Madsen
, 308-432-6372

Doane College
Wilma Daddario, 402-466-4744

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lisa King, 402-472-7787
Julie Lanxton, 402-472-7787

Wayne State College
Carolyn Linster, 402-375-9343

Two-Year Programs

Central Community College, Grand Island
Jeanne Webb, 308-398-7476

Central Community College, Hastings
Barb Beck, 402-461-2465

McCook Community College
Tyler Esch, 800-658-4348, Ext. 8161

Metropolitan Community College
Kathy Halverson-Rigatuso, 402-457-2282

Nebraska Indian Community College
Jackie Hahn, 402-837-5078

Northeast Community College
Donna Niemeyer, 402-844-7351

North Platte Community College
Tyler Esch, 308-345-6303

Southeast Community College
Deb Thomas, 402-437-2457

Western Nebraska Community College
Linda Mattern Ritts, 308-635-6363


National Early Childhood Program Accreditation

Accreditation provides recognition for those early childhood care and education programs that meet identified criteria for quality. It provides parents and the community with information about what to look for and some assurance that accredited programs can offer their children greater opportunity to grow and develop to their highest capacity. Research on early childhood programs consistently shows that high quality programs have greater benefits for children.

Approved accrediting bodies are those of the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The Council on Accreditation School Age is not currently approved by NDE, but the process for doing so in the future is being considered.

Nebraska Accreditation Project Brochure

Nebraska Criteria for National Accreditation Systems Included in the Nebraska Accreditation Project

Office of Early Childhood Staff

Staff members of the Office of Early Childhood are housed in Lincoln, at the Nebraska State Office Building, and in Omaha at the Early Childhood Training Center, in the Educational Service Unit #3 building.

Nebraska Department of Education
Office of Early Childhood

301 Centennial Mall South
P.O. Box 94987
Lincoln, NE 68509-4987
Phone: 402-471-3184
Fax: 402-471-0117

Nebraska Department of Education
Office of Early Childhood
Early Childhood Training Center
6949 S. 110th Street
La Vista, NE 68128-5722
Phone: 402-557-6880; 1-800-892-4453
Fax: 402-557-6890

Staff List

Melody Hobson


Ann Adams

Program Associate


Alyssa Anson

Early Childhood Education Specialist


Teresa Berube

Early Childhood Special Education Coordinator


Linda Bray

Training Coordinator


Amy Bunnell

Part C Coordinator


Jene Chapman

Program Specialist


Lauri Cimino

Step Up to Quality Director


Lynne Cook

Step Up to Quality, Coach Specialist


Jenny Fleming

Step Up to Quality, Program Quality Specialist


Meleah Gamvroudis


Tammi Hicken

Program Specialist


Dena Johnson

Program Associate
Child Care Resource and Referral


Morgan Krull

Step Up to Quality, Program Coordinator


Diane Lewis

Step Up to Quality, Quality Rating Specialist


Kristine Luebbe

Early Childhood Education Specialist


Joan Luebbers

Head Start State Collaboration Director


Katie Miller

Career Development Coordinator


Emily Nash

Training Coordinator


Chris Rowe

Program Associate


Kim Schamp

Office Associate, Administrative Assistant


Kim Texel

Early Childhood Education Specialist


Deb Walls

Office Associate


Ready For Success What Families Want to Know about Starting School in Nebraska.

Ready for Success

The Ready for Success booklet is in response to commonly asked questions from parents about preparing for, and entering kindergarten.

Please complete this form and return to our offices to obtain copies.

You may also print off your own booklets in the languages below.


Early Childhood Grant Program Reports (ages 3-5)

Early Childhood Evaluation Progress Reports

July 1, 2009-June 30, 2010
full report

July 1, 2008-June 30, 2009
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July 1, 2007-June 30, 2008
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Executive Summary

July 1, 2006-June 30, 2007
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July 1, 2005-June 30, 2006
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July 1, 2004-June 30, 2005
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July 1, 2003-June 30, 2004
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