April Hepokoski on creating a zero-waste, nature-based classroom

“Children learn best through play and exploration in nature.”

April Hepokoski, Founder of The Little Barnyard Preschool and zero-waste campaigner

One of the most common questions I get asked from poggie listeners is about how to raise children in a slower, more mindful way. Undoubtedly it’s a difficult thing to do given how fast-paced our world is, and how much pressure is being applied at all levels of education. But that’s not to say there aren’t people looking for a different way.

In today’s episode I’m joined by one such inspiring change-maker in April Hepokoski. April is an early-childhood educator and founder of The Little Barnyard Preschool in Duluth, Minnesota, where she has created a learning centre focused on time spent in nature. April also founded a zero-waste living group on her local community, where she shares tips and tricks for living with less waste as well as lobbying the city council to make changes in her town. (See? I told you she was a change-maker!)

April and I speak about nature-based learning and the parallels it shares with slow living, as well as the positive impact that more time in nature has not only on her young students but also their families and the community in general.

We also talk about the power of grassroots change, and as someone who has recently set up a community group for zero waste living, April has some fantastic insights in to what works and the challenges she’s faced in establishing such a group.

Questions featured in this episode:

  1. How did you structure a localised zero-waste living group?
  2. What is the philosophy or mission of The Little Barnyard Preschool?
  3. What caused you to combine child-led learning with nature-based learning?
  4. What does nature-based learning look like on a day-to-day basis?
  5. What benefits and differences do parents see?
  6. How can people begin to bring this philosophy into their own home if there are no nature-based learning offerings in their area?
  7. What can educators do to start to bring nature-based learning into their school? Any resources or recommendations on how to start the conversation?
  8. Do you have any tips for bringing zero-waste principles into the classroom?


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