Learning Gardens and Learning Landscapes: Connecting Young People to Nature


Hours for Learning Activity:

1 learning hour

Date and Time:

Tuesday, February 27, 2018, 4:30pm to 5:30pm


Tuesday, February 27, 4:30 pm ET

Join us for the next installment of NAAEE's monthly webinar series. We'll be joined by Dilafruz WIlliams (Portland State University), Nilda Cosco (Natural Learning Initiative at NC State University), and Robin Moore (Natural Learning Initiative at NC State University), who will be discussing learning gardens and landscapes and how we can design opportunities to connect more young people (and educators!) to nature.

Register now and we will send you the recording if you aren't able to make it!


Dilafruz Williams

Dilafruz Williams, PhD, is a professor of Leadership for Sustainability Education at Portland State University. With dozens of partners, she has designed, co-founded, and supported several cutting-edge initiatives such as: Learning Gardens LaboratoryLeadership for Sustainability Education master’s program, Sunnyside Environmental School in Portland Public School District, and an NSF-funded project: Science in the Learning Gardens: Factors that Support Ethnic and Racial Minority Students in Low-Income Schools

A prolific scholar, she has given workshops and keynote addresses in South Africa, India, Nepal, Mexico, and the United States. She has been a visiting scholar at Stanford University.

She was elected citywide and served on the Portland Public School Board from 2003-11.

She is the recipient of several awards and honors, including: the Hoffman Award for Faculty Excellence; Ehrlich Award for Faculty Service-Learning; and is a Fulbright Senior Scholar. She has also written over six million dollars in successful competitive grants.

She is frequently invited to give talks, seminars, and workshops, both nationally and internationally.

Dilafruz is co-author of Learning Gardens and Sustainability Education: Bringing Life to Schools and Schools to Life (Routledge), and co-editor of Ecological Education in Action: On Weaving Education, Culture, and the Environment (SUNY).

She has authored over 50 chapters, journal articles, and curriculum resource guides and has given over 100 invited lectures, symposia, and/or conference papers. With graduate degrees from Bombay, Syracuse, and Harvard Universities in the sciences, public administration, and philosophy of education her areas of expertise are:

Sustainability Education; Environmental Education
Learning Gardens: Curriculum Design; Research; STEM
Strategic Partnerships
Service-learning; Civic Engagement

Research Links: https://works.bepress.com/dilafruz_williams 

Nilda Cosco

Nilda Cosco, PhD, is Director of Programs, The Natural Learning Initiative; Research Associate Professor, College of Design; and former Director of the Center for Universal Design at NC State University. Her responsibilities include: design programming and research of outdoor environments for children with and without disabilities; development of training activities for designers, educators, and community members interested in creating high quality outdoor environments for children and families; development of printed and online dissemination materials; and coordination of state-wide comprehensive projects (design, environmental intervention, training, and evaluation).

Dr. Cosco holds a degree in Educational Psychology, Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina and a Ph.D. in Landscape Architecture, School of Landscape Architecture, Heriot Watt University / Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland.

Her primary research interest is the impact of outdoor environments on child and family health outcomes such as healthy nutrition, active lifestyles, attention functioning, and overall wellbeing, particularly as they relate to natural components of the built environment. She is also involved in direct intervention and pre/post evaluation of outdoor improvement programs in childcare centers.

In January 2000, Dr. Cosco co-founded with Professor Robin Moore the Natural Learning Initiative (NLI) at the College of Design, NC State University.

Robin Moore

Robin Moore holds degrees in architecture (London University) and urban planning (MIT), and for most of his career has worked in the field of landscape architecture as educator, researcher, and consultant. Moore is an international authority on the design of children's play and learning environments, user needs research, and participatory public open space design. His designs for children's spaces in the USA include the well-known Environmental Yard, in Berkeley, California (recipient in 1988 of the Outstanding Contribution to the Practice of Design Research by the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA). 

As a design consultant, Moore has been involved in the design of the Nature PlayScape at the Cincinnati Nature Center, Kids Together Park, Cary; Blanchie Carter Discovery Park, at Southern Pines Primary School (featured in the New York Times, October 1999); the Playspace family play center in Raleigh; and Playport in the Raleigh-Durham Airport. Design projects in Argentina include the Lekotek Play Library; Vilas Racket Club child and family center; Friends Club Adventure Playpark, and the Ecological Village. Currently, he is a public participation consultant to an interdisciplinary team working with the City of Lisbon, Portugal. He was design consultant to the Chicago Zoological Society for the programming and design and of Explore!, the new children's facility at Brookfield Zoo, Illinois; and for the City of Durham for the programming and design of renovations to Duke Park as well as the development of the Durham Parks and Recreation Master Plan. As director of the NC State University Natural Learning Initiative, Moore is currently involved in the design and/or renovation of dozens of outdoor spaces for preschools, special education facilities, and schoolgrounds in North Carolina. 

Recently completed works include renovation of the outdoor play and learning environments at the Bright Horizons Family Solutions Child Development Center, Research Triangle Park. Robin Moore has won many awards for his contributions to the field of design. The American Society of Landscape Architects awarded him an Honoary Membership in 2012. Countries including Sweden, Japan, and Argentina have honored him, where his work in the design of outdoor play facilities for children and families is used as a model. Moore has many years of international experience in design facilitation and participatory design program development, including the North Carolina Botanical Garden, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, N.C. Robin Moore is a member of the eight-country Growing Up in Cities action research project sponsored by UNESCO and is co-director of the Buenos Aires and Jordan field projects. 

He has lectured in many countries on issues of childhood and environment and responses to those issues through landscape design. Moore is the author or co-author of Childhood's Domain: Play and Place in Child Development (1986), Plants for Play (1993), the Play for All Guidelines (1987), the Complete Playground Book (1993), Natural Learning (1997), and numerous articles on the use of the outdoor environment by children and youth and families, and their involvement in the planning and design process. He was the principal investigator for the US Access Board update of the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards for Children's Environments. Professor Moore is past president of the International Association for the Child's Right to Play (IPA), and for twenty years was editor of the IPA magazine, PlayRights.