A bright orange crab looking for food on black lava beach.
Galapagos fur seal pup yawning on sandy beach.
A morel grows in a South Carolina woods.
A blue dasher dragonfly resting on reed in South Carolina
A red-footed booby is perched in a green tree watching the sky.

Early Childhood Environmental Educator

The Center offers a unique program for any Miami student who wishes to become certified as an environmental educator for very young children. Interested students must complete all requirements for the course BIO 320/377, Early Childhood Environmental Educator, which is offered each spring semester through the Hefner Museum of Natural History. While there is no additional cost for the certificate, students are asked to supply one 2 in. binder.  All other class materials are provided.

BIO 320/377 was designed by Julia Robinson, Early Childhood Specialist and Environmental Educator at the Hefner Museum. Before coming to the Hefner, Ms. Robinson devoted most of her career to the education of young children as an elementary school teacher, teaching grades one through four, and as a preschool director.  While this course is tailored to Early Childhood Education majors, she welcomes students from diverse disciplines.  All that is required is a passion for helping young children develop a sense of place, an awareness of nature, and ultimately, a love of learning more about the Earth.

Young children are natural scientists. They possess an inherent curiosity about what they see, smell, hear, feel, and taste. Fostering that curiosity is the key to helping children develop a lifelong love of nature and a sound foundation for environmental literacy. Students will participate in inquiry activities stemming from major themes in Early Childhood Earth, Life, and Physical Science Standards, such as

  • Animal and Plant Adaptations
  • Sun, Moon, and Stars
  • Seasons
  • Rocks
  • Fossils
  • Animal Behavior

The goals of this class include:

*to provide background information to create meaningful inquiry activities necessary to teach early childhood environmental education

*to encourage ways to develop a sense of place and an awareness of nature for all ages

*to offer a certification opportunity and professional development that help students to become more marketable in their employment searches.

*to create Discovery Trunks, educational kits for early childhood classrooms, for use throughout the tri-state region

The first half of the course, students engage in inquiry activities daily that cover the above listed topics.    During the second half of the course, students work in groups to create Ohio Environmental Education Fund (OEEF) Discovery Trunks.   The OEEF Discovery Trunks are educational kits that will be disseminated throughout our area to local schools, home school groups, and early childhood centers, offering interdisciplinary inquiry lessons, manipulatives needed for the activities, and accompanying specimens at a low cost, centered around the themes of environmental education. Independently, students work on projects that allow for deeper exploration of environmental education concepts discussed in class. Projects are predetermined and assigned hour values.  Students must successfully complete a minimum of 10 independent hours of projects.  Due to the set-up of inquiry lessons and time commitment restraints, class attendance is imperative to complete the certification.  

Finally, new this year and thanks to a grant we received through the OEEF, all Miami students enrolled in the course earning the certification will receive an Outdoor Area Kit (OAK) packed with a science library, magnifying glasses, posters, informational books, plant press, and so much more.  This is something that hasn't been done before and we are excited to arm our Miami students with the tools to implement environmental education in their own classes.


If you are interested or have questions, please contact Julia Robinson at robins48@miamioh.edu or 513.529.4618.

child dressed up