March training event in Juneau highlights ways to get kids outdoors

Ethan White waits for his family to catch up during a hiking trip on Sitka's Herring Cove Trail

Ethan White waits for his family to catch up during a hiking trip on Sitka's Herring Cove Trail

If you happen to be in Juneau next month, you might want to check out the annual early childhood conference hosted by the Association for the Education of Young Children (AEYC) on March 10-12 at Juneau’s Centennial Hall.

The theme is “Beaches, Boots and Blueberries: Learning Through Nature,” and the focus of the conference will be how to get more kids outdoors and the educational benefits of being out in nature. The program features a free community presentation from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursday night, plus two days of training for educators and other people who work with young children (the training has fees, but continuing education credits are available).

The keynote speaker for Thursday’s free event is Martin LeBlanc, vice-president of the Children and Nature Network and national youth education director for the Sierra Club. He will speak about “No Child Left Inside: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder.” He will outline the issue and challenges we face in reconnecting our children with nature while highlighting free resources available to help inspire families, teachers and community members so they can become local and possibly national leaders in the growing “No Child Left Inside” movement.

LeBlanc also will lead several training events on Friday. Leading training events on Saturday are Leon Smith, who works with “Earthplay” designing custom natural play environments for preschools and child-care centers around the country, and Jack Dalton, a Yup’ik storyteller, writer and teacher who has worked with students all over the United States.

For more information about the conference, go to This link also has registration information and info about hotel discounts that expire Feb. 9. A brochure is linked below (PDF file).

• AEYC Early Childhood Conference brochure, “Berries, Boots and Blueberries: Learning Through Nature”

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