Enrich minds through Place-based Education
Place-based and ecological education (PBEE) expands the classroom walls by bringing learning experiences into the communities and ecosystems where students live. Practitioners of PBEE prioritize learning opportunities that are student-centered, inquiry-based, outside in nature, and focused on authentic problems. When done well, documented outcomes of PBE include academic, socio-emotional, and health benefits for students; teacher engagement and satisfaction; and strengthened community partnerships for schools.
We work with educators to connect kids to the places in which they live.
About Upper Valley Teaching Place Collaborative (UVTPC)
Founded in 2017 as the Wellborn Hub, the Upper Valley Teaching Place Collaborative (UVTPC) is a network of education professional development providers and practitioners who work together to advance high-quality place-based and ecological education (PBEE) in all Upper Valley Schools. We envision an Upper Valley where all students are deeply engaged in education that fosters ecological understanding and connection to place. We work with professional development providers, educators, administrators, and schools across the region to connect them to the support they need in order to advance PBEE.
After several years of fiscal sponsorship by Vital Communities, UVTPC became a Vital Communities program in July 2021. UVTPC is funded by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s Wellborn Ecology Fund.
Discover what UVTPC has to offer you
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2022 Upper Valley Teaching Place Collaborative Conference
Join Upper Valley educators and master teachers and scientists for the 2022 Upper Valley Teaching Place Collaborative Conference. Formerly known as the “Wellborn Conference,” this day-long event is a great way for Upper Valley teachers, administrators, and educators to stay abreast of the latest resources, techniques, and applications of place-based education and to learn from one another about their challenges and successes. Registration is on a sliding scale, and stipends are available.
Location: Lake Morey Resort, Fairlee, Vermont
Date: Friday, November 4th
Partners include Vermont Center for Ecostudies, Regeneration Corps, Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences, Peer Associates, Shelburne Farms, Hubbard Brook Research Foundation, Sullivan County Conservation District, Four Winds Nature Institute, and teachers from around the Upper Valley. In addition to hands-on learning sessions, we will be offering mindfulness walks, Open Space, a teacher celebration, opportunities to visit local schools and exploration of a nearby Valley Quest.
Please note that the agenda is subject to change.
7:30 – 8:00 Continental Breakfast and Check-In
8:00 – 8:30 Interactive Networking and Movement
8:30 – 10:30 Hands-on Learning Sessions, including Citizen Science with Vermont Center for Ecostudies • Equitable Climate Action (panel discussion) • Regeneration Corps: Bring learning outside • Four Winds: Building Peaceful Communities Through Nature-Based Play and Learning • Glen Falls (Valley) Quest
10:30 – 10:45 Break
11:00 – 11:30 Introduction to and Designing Open Space
11:30 – 12:30 Teacher Celebration and Lunch
12:30 – 3:00 Open Space Sessions: PBE Basics with Dawn Dextraze (Sullivan County Conservation District) • VINS Early Childhood Ed • Mindfulness Walk • Visit a school garden • Classroom phenology with Hubbard Brook Research Foundation
3:00 – 3:30 Closing
What participants have said about past conferences
“As always, I loved being with curious, dedicated, like-minded but diverse educators. It’s a fantastic “reboot” to the soul to be able to collaborate with others who share the importance of teaching the values of ecology, systems, and respectful living among humans and other species.”
“This was a wonderful opportunity for folks to get together and do real meaningful work! It was inspiring and exciting!”
“This was my first year attending the conference. It was exciting and inspiring. I walked away with a ‘backpack’ full of new resources and ideas!”
Funding and Grants
Vital Communities Place-based Education offers two types of mini-grants including Grants for Upper Valley Teaching Collaborative Projects and Grants for Upper Valley Farm to School Network Projects thanks to the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s Wellborn Ecology Fund.
Read more about the application process and funded projects below.
Grants for Place-based Education Projects
Educators, do you have an idea for a project that will connect students with the outdoors? The Upper Valley Teaching Place Collaborative is accepting applications for its 2022 mini-grants! Click here to view the application.
UVTPC will award eight grants of up to $1,000 each. These grants are designed to help teachers and learning communities implement programming in the spring or prepare during the summer for the coming school year. Grants are available for, but not limited to, professional development, procurement of supplies, developing flexible classroom spaces, and collaboration with the community.
Grants for Farm to School Network Projects
Educators and Administrators, do you have a plan and want to connect your school with local farms? The Upper Valley Farm to School Network is accepting applications for its 2023 grants!
These grants are designed to help schools, early childhood centers, afterschool programs, or school-related wellness programs with projects related to farms, our agricultural heritage, farm products, food production, or local food consumption.
Upper Valley Teaching Collaborative 2022 Mini-Grant Projects
Nine diverse educational organizations from across the Upper Valley received Upper Valley Teaching Place Collaborative mini-grants in 2022, including several elementary and high schools, a preschool, and a library. The mini-grant program this year was a great success, utilizing one-time funds available from planned activities that were suspended due to the pandemic. The variety of programs demonstrates the creativity and breadth of place-based education programming.
Upper Valley Farm to School Network 2022 Mini-Grant Projects
Check out the reports from twelve Upper Valley schools and day care facilities awarded mini-grants to support Farm to School projects in 2022!
Stories from the Field
Our colleague Kat Robyns at Woodstock High School has followed the steps and come up with a solid plan for a field trip at Sunrise Farm VT for the Foundations of Agriculture class for her school’s 9th graders. Read more similar stories below!
Reaching Out to the Experiential Sites
Dear [Community Partner],
I hope this email finds you well. My name is [Your Name] and I am a [Teacher] at [School Name]. I am writing to you today to inquire about the possibility of bringing my students to visit your [site] on a field trip.
At our school, we are always looking for opportunities to provide our students with hands-on, experiential learning opportunities that connect them with the local community and the natural world. Visiting a [site] would be a great way for our students to learn about [topic], [topic], and the importance of supporting local [topic] systems.
I was wondering if you would be willing to host a group of [number] students at your [site] for a guided tour and educational program. We would be happy to schedule the visit at a time that is convenient for you, and we can work together to tailor the program to meet the needs and interests of our students.
If you are interested in hosting a group of students at your [site], please let me know and we can discuss the details further. I look forward to hearing from you and hope that we can work together to provide a meaningful learning experience for our students.
Feel free to contact the Place-based Education team for some suggestions on a suitable community partner for your Place-based Education project!
Next steps before getting out
- Prepare learning goals and share them with your community partner
- Make it hands-on! What will the students be doing?
- Be interdisciplinary – look for opportunities to incorporate multiple subject areas into your experience.
Make it reciprocal!
- Ask in advance if the partner needs monetary compensation.
- Look for opportunities to contribute to the partner’s operation.
- Be proactive in building a mutually beneficial relationship with your community partner.
Curriculum and Planning
Here’s the mock schedule constructed on Kat’s class tour at the farm for your reference, which can be applied in most cases.
12:15 – 1:00 Based on the number of students, teachers may divide them into different sections into separate areas to ensure the individualized learning experience as much as possible. A session usually consists of relevant questions to lead into the topics and the main topics with practical examples, a Q&A session, and followed by group activities or experimentation.
One group tours the farm and the other visits the compost and does some hands-on data gathering or group activities.
The food scraps session was presented by Jen and Trevor. They began the session by asking questions about the importance of decomposing foods scraps, or how it helps them and the world financially and environmentally. They later went on to talk about the definition and the actual decomposition process. Both included their daily work into teaching the students to make the knowledge more familiar and practical. The students were able to do some experiments with adjusting temperatures and moistures to facilitate the decomposition process.
The farm tour session touched on CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and how it can be a good option for people who want to support local agriculture and eat more locally grown produce while also being a good way for farmers to get a predictable income and build a closer relationship with their customers. Economically, the farm’s business strategy and investment from the perspectives of farmers are worth noting. Relevant devices for seeding and harvesting are introduced. Afterward, the students visited the greenhouses to learn more about agriculture techniques such as crop rotation and the reasons behind including pests and soil nutrition. The students also raised burning questions on climate change and its effects on the farm in reality.
1:00 – 1:45 Groups switch
1:45 – 2:00 Say goodbye and take a group photo
Find out such sample schedules and inspirations with our resources below!
Kat’s planning is very interdisciplinary as it combines Chemistry, Biology, Economics, Geology, and Social Justice into the learning content.
Find out how you can incorporate different subjects into the curriculum below!
Research and Evaluation Library
The learning standards have always been a problem for Place-based Education. We are here to leverage that gap! The students should have an idea of what to expect before going into place-based education.
Outlining the overarching questions
Here are Kat’s questions in her students’ reports:
- What connections can you make between what you see and hear at the farm and the topic of food security that you have been studying in Wellness and Social Studies?
- What connections can you make between what you see and hear at the farm and carbon, the carbon cycle or carbon footprints? We know that we haven’t started studying carbon yet in science class but try to answer this based on prior knowledge.
- What else is interesting that you saw or heard at the farm? Why do you think it is interesting? What will you take away and remember from this field trip?
Application and Evaluation
- Participation and Engagement
- Student presentation of findings to peers (Dinner Project, Panel Discussion, etc.).
- A written report or reflection.
Some students mentioned how they have the same model or business in their family or run a relevant project in their school clubs. It is recommended that students have the opportunity to apply what they have learned from experiential learning to their real-life situations.
- Individual/Teamwork projects based on personal experience
- How to incorporate these assignments into the syllabus with appropriate proportions?
- Feedback and Surveys Design
- Career Navigation
Find out more below!
Sarah (first from left to right): “I am grateful for opportunities like this as it allows me to get hands-on experience in the Agriculture field and make sure it is the right fit for me. I definitely want to do it as a career in the future!”
Skylar (second from left to right): “I love how we incorporate different subjects into this experiential learning experience. I benefit most from the Chemistry and Biology portions as I want to become a Bioengineering major in college.”