Promoting Professional Development and Best Practice in EE
Roles at NAAEE:ee360 Fellow
Education Programs Director
Thorne Nature Experience
Erin Saunders is the Education Programs Director at Thorne Nature Experience. Erin leads community environmental education programming with a staff of 14 in Boulder County that serves more than 12,000 youth each year. Thorne believes that ALL children should have the opportunity to connect to nature and has been the backbone organization in a collective impact project reaching an additional 10,000 participants each year and providing more than $400,000 in scholarships annually to low-income families. Thorne’s programs build empathy and an emotional connection to nature through joyful, hands-on, place-based environmental education experiences. Erin hopes that her participation in the ee360 Fellowship will help her design a nature preschool program, based on best practices, and allow young learners to develop a lifelong connection to nature through frequent experiences playing in nature. Erin pursued a career in EE because of her own love of nature since childhood and a belief that having the opportunity to spend time in nature with a mentor will result in adult stewardship. Erin holds a BSc in Zoology and Botany from the University of Washington and the University of Melbourne in Australia. Erin enjoys live music and dancing at Red Rocks, traveling, hiking, and spends most of her free time exploring and playing with her two young boys in nature.
About Erin's ee360 Community Action Project
Erin's Community Action Project was to build the first childcare licensed nature preschool in Boulder, Colorado. Thorne Nature Preschool is built on the simple belief that kids grow better in nature. The Preschool offers a unique early childhood education experience for young children to learn, grow, and reach their full potential, through daily immersion in nature with caring, attentive mentors. With dual goals of fostering the development of the whole-child and nature connection, Thorne Nature Preschool prepares young children to succeed in school and in life. Thorne’s youngest participants will develop an array of life skills including academic preparedness, empathy for themselves and others, a sense of place, and a love of learning (to name a few) that they can take with them for the rest of their lives.