A community forum hosted by Education Service Unit #6 and Nature Action Collaborative for Children was held at Doane College last Tuesday evening. The topic of the forum was the Crete Community Nature Explore Classroom: Connecting Children and Families with Nature. The attendees included representatives from Crete Public Schools, City of Crete, Doane College, Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center, Blue Valley Child Development Program, Early Development Network, and Nebraska Early Learning Connection.
Nature Explore is a collaborative program of Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation. Doane College and the Crete community will be part of the Nature Action Collaborative for Children, a world-wide network whose goal is to help nature become an integral, joyful part of the daily lives and learning for children and adults. Nature Explore Classrooms offer specifically designed spaces and materials with proven benefits that encourage children to learn through discovery. Children have fun while the spaces and activities enhance concentration and creativity, relieve stress, and develop imagination and a sense of wonder-all of which are motivating factors for lifelong learning. The proposed classroom/park would be located in a wooded area on Doane's Crete campus and be available for use by families and children of the Crete area and Doane students.
Doane College is providing $10,000 to fund the initial creation of the Nature Explore Classroom/park. Doane's gift to get the important project started provides opportunity to develop additional support from community partners and seek grants to support programming. The Crete Community Foundation initially contributed $3,500 to pay for design of the outdoor facility for children and families. Total cost of developing the Nature Explore Classroom/park is approximately $45,000.