Families in Nature offers a holistic approach to getting your community out into nature to play and learn together. Our Programs are all part of a larger whole. Each program is one of our menu of options that allows you to tailor your participation in FIN to meet the needs of your family, your community or your school, as you are the expert on what your own community needs to overcome the barriers to spending time in nature.
Our Ecologist School Program is the backbone of what we teach and how we teach. It is currently under publication by Texas A&M University Press and will be released soon as a book and an ebook. Samples of the 1400+ lessons contained in the Ecologist School Guidebook are available in both English and Spanish at the link above. A badge can be earned in each of the 16 branches of science. Badges and Nature Journals to record your experiences can be purchased on this website. The Ecologist School Program also includes an emphasis on Youth Leadership with the option of planning and implementing a Humboldt Project for older youth and adults. Check out our blog to learn about the Young Conservation Leaders that have gone through our programs.
Our Guide Development Program allows us to support parents, teachers, and leaders to get families out into nature in their own communities. Participating in a Guide Development weekend in person or virtually will give you the training and resources to get your family or community outdoors and will give you access to our Ecologist School Guidebook, access to mentoring from our staff, and inclusion in our community of practice that is filled with like-minded conservation leaders. You are invited to attend a Guide Training in Central Texas, or bring our staff to you to train leaders from your own organization, city, school district, or collaborative of organizations. Due to COVID19, we will also begin offering Guide Development online this fall (2020).
Our Austin, TX Gear Lending Library supports our local schools, organizations and Nature Communities with camping gear and science teaching materials that can be borrowed at no cost for under-resourced schools and communities and for a minimal fee for groups that have access to financial resources.
We encourage all of our Guides to help their own community get out into nature together though the formation of Nature Communities, a group of families that explore nature together.
Our Guides are also encouraged to support Campus Campouts at their local school or organization. Campus Campouts eliminate many of the common barriers to spending time outside such as transportation to parks and fear of going to unfamiliar places. During a campus campout, FIN Guides will teach their community the basics of camping starting on their own school or organization or company’s campus. They emphasize Nearby Nature and help families gain comfort, confidence and competence in the outdoors while staying close to home in a familiar place. *Our Campus Campout Program is currently suspended due to COVID-19*
Our Nature Immersion Travel Program takes families or students out into wild nature to explore, participate in experiential science (formerly called Citizen Science), and feel the hope that comes from seeing that there is still a lot of wild nature left to love. We offer trips at least once per year all over the globe, frequently in partnership with inspiring locally-run organizations such as Mision Tiburon in Costa Rica. *Our Nature Immersion Travel Program is currently suspended due to COVID-19*
Now that we are entering the 2020/2021 school year with a global pandemic still raging, FIN has adjusted our long time programs to incorporate new safety measures. And we have created three new programs to support your family and enhance your children’s education through time spent in nature, no matter how your children will be attending school – online, at home, in a learning pod, or at school in person when that option becomes available. Our Teacher Training, Virtual Nature Community and Virtual Ecologist School are here to support you! And if you would like to meet in person, we restarted our in-person programming in October 2020. You can now join our in-person Ecologist School lessons taught by FIN staff in Pease Park (in Central Austin), you can sign up for one of our day trips or camping trips lead by FIN staff and core volunteers (found on the FIN Texas calendar), you can start or join one of our existing Nature Communities, and you can join our youth leadership program. We have also restarted our Familias Aventureras program and can lend gear to our guides and school partners from our Gear Library. If you would like to help get your own community out into nature, we invite you to register for our next Guide Development Program, or host a training in your school, city or organization. Our trained guides receive access to all 1500 lessons in our Ecologist School Guidebook as well as lessons and support to teach outdoors, include all ages, incorporate diversity and teach hope. Families need time in nature now more than ever before, and becoming a FIN Guide is the first step to helping your community get outdoors to enjoy the restorative power of nature.
All FiN activities are aimed at teaching children and their parents about ecology and conservation through hands-on experiences in nature, while they spend quality family time together. The activities include nature walks, field science experiences, service projects, camp-outs, lessons in outdoor skills, S.T.E.A.M. aligned lessons and more. Each activity has time for learning and time for playing outside. It is amazing what a group of kids (and parents) will come up with when they have unstructured time outside together.
We strive to create confident, capable, independent, curious, engaged, interested and connected children and families. The physical and mental health benefits, as well as the educational benefits of time spent in nature are well documented in Richard Louv’s books “Last Child in the Woods” and “The Nature Principle.”