Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

fsc2014 The Field Studies Council in England has announced its schedule of classes for 2014. Click on the image to view their 52-page brochure listing 350 classes about plants, art and nature.

This is what’s new at
Classes Near You > England.

Field Studies Council

Founded in 1943, the Field Studies Council (FSC) provides learning opportunities about the environment for all ages and abilities. Visit their website to learn more about interdisciplinary fieldwork opportunities, classes for individuals and families, publications and profession development courses. Courses are held across the FSC network of UK Centers, from the Scottish Highlands to the south Devon coast. The extensive schedule of classes for 2013 includes:

Botany Courses – Courses include studies of flowers, trees, grasses and grasslike plants, ferns, freshwater and wetland plants, lichens, fungi, general plants, mosses and liverworts. View Details/Register

Natural History Courses – Courses include studies of the natural world, birds and other animals, habitats and conservation. View Details/Register

Art Courses – Courses include painting, drawing, crafts (e.g. bookbinding), traditional skills (e.g., basketry), photography, archeology and botanical illustration. Get information about FSC botanical illustration courses online.

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An investigation into adolescents’ perceptions and experiences with nature revealed that some urban youth view nature as a threatening place. A place where crimes occur and where trees hide the activities of criminals.

Sound extreme?

Read on.

Arjen E. J. Wals provides extensive background into this observation and others in Nobody Planted it, it Just Grew! Young Adolescents’ Perceptions and Experiences of Nature in the Context of Urban Environmental Education.

The perception that nature is a threatening place was uncovered when Wals interviewed students from four classes at four different middle schools in and around Detroit, Michigan. Wals’ study included students from four different communities. The communities represented in this study include upper-class families whose children attend private schools, middle- and working-class families whose children attend suburban schools, and working-class and “out of work” families whose children attend schools in Detroit (Wals, 1994). The student populations at these schools ranged from almost all-white in the suburban schools to almost all-African-American in the Detroit schools. The locations of the schools ranged from a park-like setting for the private school to “a bunker in an urban war zone” (Wals, 1994) for one of the Detroit schools. The schools shared the same curriculum, however the Detroit schools were not as well equipped, had to spend time on safety issues, had to spend time performing tasks normally completed by parents and guardians and had to spend time teaching basic skills before students dropped out of school (Wals, 1994). This study included students who considered themselves fortunate to be living in safe neighborhoods and students who mostly used the outdoors “to get from one place to another” (Wals, 1994). For more information about the students and the urban environments involved in this project, read Wals (1994).

Arjen Wals created his study to investigate the following:

  • Did nature have a place in the lives of students?
  • How did students interact with nature?
  • Where did students experience nature in their respective urban environments?

Before we get too far along, I need to explain that Wals (1994) is an ethnographic-phenomenological study, not a statistical study. Phenomenological research investigates perceptions and experiences. While students from all four classes participated in the study, interviewed only 32 students. He chose eight students from each class and explains his sampling procedure in his paper.

Throughout the study, Wals was an active participant in classroom events. He observed student reactions to nature experiences, kept a research journal, interviewed students and reviewed their reflective journals (Wals, 1994).

What did he learn about students and their relationship with nature?

Wals (1994) found that students managed to build relationships with nature, regardless of their environment. He found that two themes emerged from student interviews and journals — how students define nature and how they experience nature.

Wals observed that students define nature as: flowers, animals, trees, alive, pure, peaceful, not human-made, freedom, solitude, self-supporting, wild, spontaneous (Wals, 1994).

He also observed that students experience nature as: entertainment, a challenging place, a place where time stands still, a threatening place, a background to other activities, a place for learning, a place to reflect, and as
a threatened place (Wals, 1994).

Excerpts from student interviews supporting the observations above can be reviewed in Wals (1994). Environmental education (EE) teachers will also be interested in the author’s comments about EE programs. Wals discusses his findings and the implications they have on environmental education. At the close of his paper, he suggests nature experiences teachers might want to try in their programs.

Nobody Planted it, it Just Grew! can be read online for free.

Literature Cited

Wals, Arjen E.J. 1994. Nobody planted it, it just grew! Young adolescents’ perceptions and experiences of nature in the context of urban environmental education. Children’s Environments. 11(3): 177-193

Also See

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Bird Fest image The Santa Ana Watershed Association will host their annual Fall Festival of Birds next weekend at Chino Creek Wetlands and Educational Park. There will be bird-themed activities, exhibitors and a NestWatch Workshop. Come to the festival to learn more about the NestWatch citizen science program operated by the
Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

2013 Fall Festival of Birds
Saturday, November 2, 2013
10 AM to 2 PM

Directions to Chino Creek Wetlands

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Please welcome the ART+BIO Collaborative to Classes Near You > Massachusetts!

ART+BIO Collaborative

The ART+BIO Collaborative in Cambridge, MA fosters the integration of science, nature, and art through novel collaborations, research, and education. They design innovative art+science curriculum and turn public spaces into interactive learning environments.

    ISLAND LIFE: Tropical Field Studies of Art+Nature in Puerto Rico
    January 10-17, 2014

    Escape the cold winter to the Caribbean in this one-of-a-kind, art+nature immersion experience in Puerto Rico! Join instructors, Stephanie Dowdy-Nava and Saul S. Nava, for an artistic exploration of the diverse tropical wildlife from rainforest, mountain, beach and coastal environments. Through hands-on observation, artistic interpretation and various biological methods, participants will learn to utilize the natural habitat as a studio/lab to make informed art about tropical plants, animals, and nature.

    Cost: $1750 (before November 1, 2013)
    Cost: $1920 (after November 1, 2013)
    Registration Deadline: December 1, 2013

    View Details/Register

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Jane LaFazio
Jane is a mixed media artist and a member of the San Diego Sketchcrawl group. Jane teaches at conferences across the U.S. and leads classes in Italy and Greece too. In addition to sketching classes, Jane teaches workshops in collage, mixed media, and quilting. There are always many, many opportunities to learn from Jane in-person. Below is a short list of classes that may be of interest to you. To view all of Jane’s upcoming classes, see her teaching schedule online.

Also see this interview with Jane and her Ask The Artist Q&A with readers.

    Collage 101
    J & J Ranch
    Descanso, CA
    Saturday, November 9, 2013
    10 AM – 4 PM
    Need some inspiration for your sketchbook? Consider this introduction to collage. Get creative and learn how to play with scraps of paper, gesso, rosin paper and more. Cost: $100, includes materials
    View Details/Register

    Sketching and Watercolor in a Mixed Media Journal (Online)

    This class begin October 31, 2013. Add new dimensions to your illustrated journal by learning a new technique each week for the next six weeks. You’ll have a brand new journal and loads of inspiration to take you into the new year. This class is for students who have had some experience with drawing and watercolor. Sign up today. This class begins next week!
    Cost: $90 View Details/Register

    Sketching & Watercolor: Journal Style

    Six-week online class.
    Learn how to record your life, your summer vacation and other adventures using a loose and quick style of journaling. Participants in this online class will learn a new technique or subject each week and will receive links to supporting material. Communicate with fellow participants and see each others’ projects progress. Designed for beginners. This class will be offered again in January 2014. Cost: $85
    View Details

Plan Ahead to Learn from Jane in 2014

View teaching schedule for more information.

  • ArtWalk: San Diego – January 13-19, 2014
  • ArtWalk: Italy – May 24-30, 2014
  • ArtWalk: The French Riviera – June 1-7, 2014
  • Nature Journaling in Massachusetts – September 12-14, 2014

This information has also been posted to Classes Near You > Southern California.

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Encelia Train. © Mary-Austin Klein. All rights reserved.

Encelia Train. © Mary-Austin Klein. All rights reserved.

Mary-Austin Klein is known for her exquisite small-scale paintings of the California desert that capture the light conditions unique to California. In her current exhibition at the Theodore Payne Foundation, she brings attention to human encroachment on native plant environments and desert landscapes.

Mary-Austin Klein is the Theodore Payne Foundation’s fourth Aritst-in-Residence. During her residency, she traveled to locations in Central and Southern California to gather material for a series of oil paintings interpreting the infringement of man on the California landscape. Klein explains what motivates her to bring attention to this topic:

The ability to contain vast and deep landscapes into small, flat paintings makes me feel like a wrangler of space. The power to capture the magic of the California

Chuparosa Anza,© Mary-Austin Klein. All rights reserved.

Chuparosa Anza,© Mary-Austin Klein. All rights reserved.

desert and contain it within a frame is enthralling. It lets me transport the desert to others, sharing the beauty and promoting preservation of these vistas for future generations. Desert flora especially inspires me because of their toughness, resiliency and resourcefulness, when it comes to surviving the extreme conditions they call home.

The native Los Angeles artist has exhibited her work in galleries in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Laguna Beach, Santa Barbara and Joshua Tree. Her artwork and her advocacy efforts have been featured in The Guide to the Wild Mojave, a publication sponsored by the California Wilderness Coalition, as well as in The Desert Trail and LA Architect magazines.

Klein’s current exhibition, The Native Edge: Human Encroachment on Native Plant Environments, will be on view in the gallery at Theodore Payne through December 28, 2013.

Directions to Theodore Payne Foundation

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Photo: Paula Panich

Photo courtesy Paula Panich

Seeing is the Seed: Exploring the Los Angeles County Arboretum (and a place of your own!) with
Words on Paper

LA County Arboretum
& Botanic Garden
Jan. 26 and Feb. 9, 2014
9:30 am – 12:30 pm

The workshop is open to all; you don’t have to consider yourself a writer. It’s about the deep connection between storytelling and landscape (plants, too) –- essential for thinking about our own places in the world. This will be a fun and enriching activity — you will not be put on the spot to share your words on paper! But it will be a chance for you to find some surprising things within yourself. Cost: $70 for two sessions (nonmembers); $60 for Arboretum members.

For more information, write to Susan Eubank. Please put “writing workshop” in the subject box of your e-mail.

About the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden

The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden is a 127-acre botanical garden and historical site. It is located in Arcadia, CA near Santa Anita Race Track. (View Map)

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