CREA Educators collaborate with our local schools in a variety of ways. Click the toggles below to learn more about each of our programs!

Our CREA Educators have provided innovative, outdoor, place-based learning experiences for elementary students since 2007.

They lead four-hour field trips for K-5 classes at our Ecology Center, located at the Cathance River Nature Preserve in Topsham. Each field trip brings the natural world to life using a combination of hands-on, experiential outdoor and indoor activities. Each lesson is centered around a single topic (Habitat, Pond Life, Energy, Geology, etc) that fulfills Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) standards for that topic.

We guide students to explore first, bringing in explanations and vocabulary later. This approach is deeply engaging and levels the playing field across students with different learning styles.

CREA Educators collaborate with public school districts in many capacities, including:

  • Developing district science curricula for elementary grades with an emphasis on outdoor learning
  • Translating NGSS standards into workable lesson plans for elementary grades
  • Developing place-based teaching units aligned with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Learn more about their 2023 work in our blog here, or in the local press here.

We partner with local Mt. Ararat Advanced Biology teachers Glenn Evans and Rebecca Norklun to pair students with mentors from the community. Each Thursday morning in September and October, students and mentors gathered at CREA’s Ecology Center before heading out to collect data on everything ranging from water quality to plant diversity on the heath.

Armed with game cameras, GPS units, snowshoes, coolers, flagging tape, guide books and a host of other equipment, they set out to wrestle with the real world challenges associated with data collection… while experiencing the appeal of work that has real world value!

When classes come to the Ecology Center, their teachers are usually struck by the high level of student engagement and learning. Seeing the benefits of student-centered, nature-based learning, they want to learn more about ‘place-based’ teaching.

CREA Educators launched the Outdoor Learning Network (OLN) in 2019, a peer-to-peer collaboration in which teachers from different schools gather to share experiences, successes, and mistakes to avoid when taking students outdoors to learn. They meet on different school campuses to tour outdoor learning spaces, explore new teaching tools and props, and brainstorm ideas.

CREA Educators created OLN after recognizing how much summer teacher fellows benefited from the opportunity to share ideas with other teachers who share their passion for outdoor learning. For more information, contact one of CREA’s Educators (contact info below).

The group shares tips on planning and prep, strategies for transitioning from indoor to outdoor spaces, establishing routines and expectations for the outdoor classroom, and wisdom on how to deal with common outdoor issues (e.g. spiders, ticks, distractions, etc.). Some of these topics are addressed in these 2020 training videos made for the Nature-Based Education Consortium.

If you’d like to get in touch with our educators, please contact:

Sarah Rogers –

Carey Truebe –

“Year after year CREA has been a consistent and innovative partner in expanding outdoor, place-based learning opportunities for our students. Whether through field trips on the remarkable trail system, access to the off-grid Ecology Center, or in-school CREA-created lessons; our K-5 students enjoy unique access to a true gem in the Mid-Coast.

Every year our teachers rave about the professional development and support that CREA provides, which enables us to offer engaging, hands-on science at the elementary level. CREA is truly a champion for encouraging our school to do more and better outdoor, nature-based instruction. We can see what a good fit this type of learning is for this age group. I see the fruits of CREA’s work in a deepening ecological awareness among our students, families, and teachers and growing connection to the land.”

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