The Permaculture Podcast

    1804 – Emma Huvos: Riverside Nature School and Connecting with the Other-Than-Human

    “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.


    Click here to download the episode. | Open Player in New Window

    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.

    Visit our partner: Food Forest Card Game

    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.

    Leave a comment or,

    Call: 717-827-6266

    Or write:
    The Permaculture Podcast
    P.O Box 16
    Dauphin, PA 17018

    You can also use that phone number, email address, and postal address to get in touch with me about anything you’d like. I’m here to assist you on your journey.

    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.

    Emma Huvos
    Riverside Nature School
    No Better Classroom Than Nature: Re-Imagining Early Childhood Education
    Balanced and Barefoot by Angela Hanscom
    Balanced and Barefoot Blog

    Forest Kindergarten (Wikipedia)
    What is Forest School? (Forest School Association)
    Forest School (learning style)  (Wikipedia)

    The Responsive Classroom Approach
    Sensory Processing Issues Explained
    More Time Outdoors May Reduce Kids’ Risk of Nearsightedness(American Academy of Ophthalmology)

    Sirius Community
    Sowing Solutions

    1507: Timber Framing with Patrick Shunney
    1541: The Riverside Project Round Table (Part 1)
    1544: Home (The Riverside Project Round Table Part 2)


    1. LexiLexi
      March 10, 2018    


      I have been tormented with what route I should pursue during my master’s degree. I have to decide before the fall begins and I need to understand what path I am taking, and a specific one at that.

      I was just accepted into the University of Utah’s Master of Public Administration program for the fall. I want to take my passion for environmental education to the administration level. Public administration is the type of service that speaks to me the most because success is defined by the quality of life for people instead of profit or productivity.

      My research and work include the incorporation of STEAM components into environmental and science education, sustainable agriculture and food security practices, and using multimedia journalism and digital storytelling to convey complex messages. These topics have given me experience in many corners of the nonprofit world through community service, volunteerism, stewardship and leadership.

      I was at a standstill wondering where I could make the most impact.

      Then I heard this podcast right at the perfect moment… when I was feeling so lost about my purpose and confused about where I could apply my skill set to make the biggest difference.

      Teaching has given me the most satisfaction out of anything I’ve done.

      Thank you for sharing this story with me and the rest of the world!

    2. March 31, 2018    

      Hi Scott, and Emma.

      So much of this resonates with my own experience as a PDC graduate, a parent, an environmentalist, and, now, an early childhood and primary educator. My partner and I set up Natureweavers on the Sunshine Coast in Australia, which is a similar model, with similar challenges, as Riverside, and it came to be for many of the same reasons/observations/theories that Emma spoke of here. I also work largely alone, so it was wonderful to hear a Emma’s story and to know that there is a community of educators worldwide who are continuing to offer up these experiences for children. Thankyou.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.