Our mission is to mentor, design, and coach the implementation of the nature-based project approach, with fidelity and passion with all young children.
Welcome to Iowa's Nature Connection's Young Investigator Program
We are a collaborative of early childhood professional educators, naturalists, and environmental educators dedicated to providing high-quality professional development for early childhood teachers and staff. The Young Investigators program focuses on integrating nature and the outdoors into classrooms and curricula through the Project Approach.
|Learn more about Project Approach||Resources for Teachers|
|Find out about this child-initiated teaching method that also meets Iowa’s learning standards. MORE >||Click here to find more information on using the Project Approach in the classroom. MORE >|
|What is Nature Deficit?||Young Investigator Testimonials|
|Review the current research on the rising concern about Nature Deficit and its impact on today’s youth. MORE >||Read about the Young Investigators program from educators who have participated in local training. MORE >|
|Learn more about Project Approach|
|Find out about this child-initiated teaching method that also meets Iowa’s learning standards. MORE >|
|What is Nature Deficit?|
|Review the current research on the rising concern about Nature Deficit and its impact on today’s youth. MORE >|
|Resources for Teachers|
|Click here to find more information on using the Project Approach in the classroom. MORE >|
|Young Investigator Testimonials|
|Read about the Young Investigators program from educators who have participated in local training. MORE >|
Who We Are
Nature Connections is a collaboration of early childhood educators and professionals in Northwest Iowa. The Young Investigator’s three year training model for teacher professional development was developed by Nature Connections and is facilitated by Iowa Lakeside Laboratory with support from the Friends of Lakeside Lab.
What We Do
Through Young Investigators: Connecting Children with Nature through the Project Approach (YI) program, Nature Connections provides high-quality professional development for early childhood educators with a nature focus. To participate, school districts must apply as a team of teachers, associates and administrators, and commit to a minimum three year and/or an optional four year training that includes classroom coaching. The YI training model was developed by the Nature Connections team.
Why We Do It
A growing body of research links children’s mental, physical, and spiritual health directly to a positive association with nature. Concerned about the negative effects of Nature Deficit, the Nature Connections team developed the Young Investigators (YI) program. Dr. Judy Harris Helm, internationally recognized trainer and author of nature-based Project Approach, currently leads the YI training. One of the programs goals is to introduce children to life-long, meaningful relationships with nature.