Glen Helen Outdoor Education Center Humans
Michael J. Blackwell, Director
My passion is understanding human learning. Because of our evolutionary history, nature connection is a vital nutrient in human development. When we connect to the earth and each other, using our senses, reason, emotion, and intuition, we become more whole, intelligent and healthy. Nature connection and high quality, transformative learning environments are human rights, not privileges. I'm proud to be a steward the Glen Helen's Outdoor Education tradition.
I have an eclectic record in community-based non-profits, academia, and the private sector. I have been teaching in a variety of traditional and non-traditional environments for almost thirty years. I developed some of the first college accredited nature-connection based learning and leadership classes in the country. I have a Master's in Educational Psychology, and have studied animal tracking and birds with some of the country's most notable teachers for twenty years. I raised two daughters on a small, rural homestead farm in a house I largely built myself.
For more of my thoughts and writing, you can find my blog Cognitive Climate Change. A TEDx talk on the power of paying attention is here: Forget What You Know: TEDxVT talk by Michael J. Blackwell
Tracking coyote on the beach:
One of my favorite things!
Sarah Cline, Assistant Director
I came to Glen Helen in 2016 as a Naturalist for the Outdoor School season. During my internship I fell in love with the Glen, the work I took part in at the Outdoor Education Center, and the community that it created. I chose to stay on in several capacities over the last few years, and this past June took on the position of Assistant Director.
I started working in the field of environmental education as a university research assistant, where I evaluated the efficacy of a variety of outdoor, science-based educational practices. This work cemented my belief in the importance of science, critical thinking, and hands-on experience for young learners. I have also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin, West Africa. During this time, I was challenged in ways I never expected and returned home with a profoundly ameliorated understanding of the importance of community, joy, and play.
As a child, I spent most of my free time outside: hiking, building forts, climbing trees, and getting as dirty as possible. However, I have come to appreciate that many are not so fortunate to have those same childhood experiences. In order to share these joys I so fondly remember, I endeavor to maintain a space for young people to be awed by nature, where they can simultaneously learn through intentional, compelling, and experiential science lessons.