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What is NBEC?

The Nature Based Education Consortium (NBEC) is a Maine-based collaborative network of outdoor learning leaders and stakeholders working together on systems-level efforts to ensure that every Maine youth has access to powerful outdoor learning experiences.

What is NBEC?

Photo above features members of the Climate Change Education Advocacy working group


Our network’s mission is to enable all Maine youth to learn outdoors, in connection with their community and natural environment. We work together to dismantle systemic barriers to outdoor access, to cultivate new resources, opportunities, and partnerships, and to amplify diverse voices to build and shift our understanding and appreciation of outdoor learning.


Photo above features members of the Climate Change Education Advocacy working group


In twenty years, Maine is known as a place where our schools and other means for educating young people are key elements in vibrant communities connected to the natural landscapes of Maine - the lands, waterways, and ocean. Maine youth understand the connection between their health and the health of the natural world. They are civically-engaged members of their communities, towns and regions. 


The Nature Based Education Consortium's history


Photos above feature members of the Climate Change Education Advocacy working group

How we work

NBEC is a network composed of outdoor learning leaders who hold a variety of diverse identities across race, age, and sector.


Principles of equity guide our work, and our meetings are grounded in Ways of Being, intentions created by NBEC participants to disrupt the culture of white supremacy.

We encourage adult leaders in this network to learn more about how to be an adult ally and support a space where youth are included and are active leaders.

How we work

What's next?

We are working toward systems change in Maine. Projects on the horizon include:

  • Building and supporting an Outdoor Equity Fund, hosted through a participatory grantmaking process, in partnership with Maine Initiatives

  • Developing and piloting an outdoor learning advocacy network across Maine

  • Building up knowledge, relationships, and support to introduce climate education policy in the Maine legislature in the upcoming legislative session

  • ...and more! Get connected to our network to be a part of shaping a future where all Maine youth have access to safe and meaningful outdoor and place-based learning experiences.

What's next?

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do you like what you see? What excites you about the potential of this network?
    Resources Additional funding Share resources/learn lessons 3 goal areas Connections Network Reduce isolation Synergy- by meeting/talking with others in the field Whole more than sum of parts Leverage effort (small orgs. Part of network) Vision Vision is possible Desire for inclusivity Yes! Excited about a greater collective impact; being able to engage people [differently] and helping people overcome apprehensions re: the outdoors Power of network to address systemic challenges/opportunities Collaboration across disciplines/sectors Connection of NBEC to other networks Tone of learning, listening, emergent Impacts Advocacy NBEC is (intends) taking the role of advocacy (frees up orgs. from that responsibility)
  • What challenges do you see?
    General NBE Challenges Transportation, especially in rural and underserved communities Community partners = How to engage/support.empower them to use curriculum that has been created Combination of simultaneous approaches Funding Mandate Need support models for teachers Timing Many groups advocating to get funding Network ChallengesIndividual/Organizational Capacity and Other Barriers Competition with our core work and weight of yet another network Time to do this since I am so busy in my own job BUT if we keep having these opportunities to meet with a little informal time, I get a HUGE benefit of synergy that makes my work efficient Sustaining individual energy and maintaining the energy to keep involving others in the work Lack of capacity (community partners) Everything else is prioritized even if this is a priority Time, space equity to part of this group Messaging Carefully choose words/messaging to involve/excite people (esp. Around risks) Breaking barrier that this is “extra” Terminology Understanding what outdoor learning is - clarity Specific enough but broad enough to be inclusive Network Building How to approach populations whose basic needs are not being met? Including everyone who needs to be at the table What are the opportunities? Blending user groups Identify unlikely (or natural) allies - One size fits all will not work Time to create a network of community partners for teachers
  • What ideas do you have in regards to NBEC’s large-scale work in Communications, Advocacy, Policy, etc.?"
    Communications? Creating consistent messaging with no jargon How not to duplicate efforts/step on each others toes/distribute resources evenly Continue the Journey “Passport” to link all our orgs - schools, library, parks, land trust, nature orgs by several themes. Every child gets passport Advocacy? Top down, government led advocacy versus bottom up family Advocacy for resources for public schools, e.g. outdoor education system Advocate for flexibility on trip leading requirements (LD 1932) EE/Outdoors across school curriculum this group supports to develop Raising up teachers within schools Policy? Incorporate outdoor teaching skills into teacher policy training Policy tied to teacher education/certification Reward credits on grants for schools tied to nature-based opportunities Keep government staff in loop regarding policy development Other? Umbrella of inclusivity - build understanding that includes sport, recreation, etc. Connect this work to jobs & health Funding connections Certificate programs for any major Involve Parks & Recreation Departments and Maine guides Sustainability support Many hands make light work Grant writing & projects More energy Teachers swapping time Teacher training (and in education programs) = Nature based integration Connect teachers to community partners, make sure there are partners in all communities Connecting nature-based ed with careers Resilience building avenue for schools dealing with childhood trauma Outdoor experiences as skill builders for at-risk youth
  • Do you have any other questions?
    How will NBEC define “outdoor learning?” How big can the tent be and still be effective? Is this about specific curriculums (hunting, fishing, etc) or about connecting with nature in general? Who would be eligible for funding? What criteria? What points of contact/champions of this do we have/can we develop in Aroostook County and other areas farther from Southern Maine? How can we coordinate/connect across the continuum of exposure/play/learning? Clarify purpose & outcomes of programs Equitable & Consistent quality around the state What about NBEC isn’t in the role of MEEA - worry about too many networks and ability to participate in all How do we know if we’re successful? More kids outside? More $ flowing? Connections in network? What’s actually measurable? What is the plan for reaching partners who are not here/at the table? NBEC will be answering these questions and more on the website in detail in weeks to come.
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