“We will not fight to save what we do not love.”
Emma Huvos joins me to talk about her role as an educator who blends together her time as a classroom teacher with the forest and outdoor school models of Europe to create a hands-on, experiential, student-driven early-childhood learning experience that is Riverside Nature School.
That opening quote, from the paleontologist and science writer Stephen Jay Gould, is a running thread throughout this conversation as we talk about how early exposure to the beauty and bounty of the outdoors and nature can have a lifelong impact on our perception and understand the world as students, while also developing a sense of biophilia, a love for all life and connection.
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If Emma’s name or The Riverside Project sounds familiar, it’s because she and I have known each other and worked together for a number of years. Together we organizing the Mid-Atlantic Permaculture Convergence in 2016 and 2017. She also hosted a podcast roundtable at The Riverside Project in 2015 which included Nicole Luttrell of Deeply Rooted Design, Jesse Wyner of Liberty Root Farm, Ashley Davis, of Meadowsweet Botanicals, and Diane Blust, of Chicory Hill Farm. I’ve included links to those, and my conversation with Patrick Shunney, one of the timber framer’s who built her outdoor space, and to Emma and her projects in the Resources section below.
I’ve wanted to have Emma on the show for sometime because I always enjoy the way she blends her passion and professionalism, so that every interaction we had, from first talking about building the timber frame pavilion, organizing MAPC, or standing on her porch one summer night talking about permaculture, left me with a better understanding of her personally, and of the work she cares so much about.
This conversation left me feeling better about some of the decisions I’ve made as a parent to expose my children to the natural world. Foraging for violets with my daughter. Letting my son dig in the dirt. The pair of them building forts, which turned into their own little village, from downed tree limbs, and only asking for help when they needed it. The three of us grabbing our water bottles and cameras to hit the trails and go hiking, interweaving their childhood with the experiences that, three decades ago, gave me a love for the natural world, as my large family gave me a love of people from the earliest moments of life.
As an educator myself, I leave this interview comfortable knowing the evidence for the holistic impacts of environmental education and our direct connection to the relational world of nature, rather than the transactional one of tests, capital, and economics.
Whether you home-school, teach in a school system or are a parent doing your best, my wish is that you’ll take this conversation with Emma to heart and spend more time outdoors, in wild places, with the children in your life.
What are your thoughts on this episode? Whether you are a teacher or parent; interested in outdoor education or just want to learn more, I’d love to hear from you.
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The Permaculture Podcast
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Wherever you are or wherever you go, I will walk beside you for as long as our paths converge.
From here, the next episode is with Avery Ellis, of Colorado Aquaponics, to talk about gray water, aquaponics, and what we can do to change the laws and regulations that make sustainability and permaculture legally prohibitive.
Until then, spend each day taking care of Earth, yourself, and spend some time in nature with the children of your community.
The Responsive Classroom Approach
Sensory Processing Issues Explained
More Time Outdoors May Reduce Kids’ Risk of Nearsightedness(American Academy of Ophthalmology)