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whole-life skills for a radically different future

Reaching Nature Connection: Storytelling

East Coast Outdoor Conference for Early Childhood Educators, Teachers, Counselors, Parents, and Mentors
May 4-5, 2019Reaching nature connection
9 am–5 pm Saturday
9 am–4 pm Sunday

Plus Evening Activities

at Earthaven Ecovillage
near Asheville, NC

With this year's conference theme, Storytelling, presenters Lia Grippo, Kelly Villarruel, and Erin Boehme will take participants on a storytelling journey to develop capacities for using stories as effective teaching tools for nature connection & beyond.

Registration open! 
Follow instructions at bottom of page.

This conference is a program of The Academy of Forest Kindergarten Teachers, co-sponsored by SOIL.

​- Participant in June 2016 conference in Santa Barbara

About the Conference

Reaching Nature Connection is an annual outdoor conference based on forest schools, wilderness awareness, and early childhood education. The conference is designed for beginners and experienced educators alike, as well as therapists, administrators, homeschool families, camp counselors, grandparents, and parents who have an interest in developmentally appropriate nature mentoring for children.

Collaboratively taught by Erin Boehme, Kelly Villarruel, and Lia Grippo

Maximum participants: 35


General $300-400
Current ECE Student $225-300 (2 spaces available)


Saturday - Day 1
8:15–8:45am Conference check-in. Please arrive by 8:45 am. Join us for light refreshments!
9:00 am–5:00pm Conference begins promptly at 9:00 am. (break for lunch)
6:30pm Dinner (pre-ordering required)
7:30pm Songs and Stories with Doug Elliott and Michael Ismerio.
See Evening activities webpage for more info. Invite your friends and family to join for dinner and stories.

Sunday - Day 2
8:00am Breakfast (pre-ordering required)
9:00am–4:00pm Conference begins promptly at 9:00 am. (break for lunch)

Packing List

Please be prepared to be outdoors all day with the following items:

  • Travel mug
  • Layered clothing for variable weather
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Chair or blanket for sitting on the ground
  • Notebook and writing implement
  • Your own food if not participating in meal plan

We strive to have a no-waste experience.

CEUs available through Antioch University, Santa Barbara

Circle Under the Oaks

Location, Travel and Accommodations

This program takes place among at Earthaven Ecovillage. This permaculture-based community offers a unique living classroom where participants will engage with the natural world, eco-infrastructure, and the intimate experience of rural community living.

What to Expect at Earthaven

Several accommodation options are available at Earthaven Ecovillage and in the surrounding area.

Cost per person: 1 night $35, 2 nights $50, 3 nights $60

Private indoor lodging
Cost for 1 person: 1 night $80, 2 nights $125, 3 nights $150
Cost for 2 people (shared bed): 1 night $120, 2 nights $187.50, 3 nights $225

Off-site options

Various options in Bat Cave, Black Mountain, and Asheville.

More about Accommodations

Earthaven is nestled in the heart of the rural Southern Appalachian Mountains, 30 miles outside of Asheville, NC on curvy mountain roads and within two hours of three airports.

More about Travel


Delicious, omnivorous meals are prepared by talented culinary artists from the Earthaven community. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options available. Snacks and beverages (tea, coffee) are provided. Participants are invited to help with meal clean-up. Many hands make light work.

As much food as possible is sourced from Earthaven and its surrounding farms and gardens, with some ingredients sourced from local grocery stores. Our meals are created with seasonal, local, fresh, wildcrafted, humanely-raised, and organic ingredients.

The full meal plan includes 4 meals, Saturday lunch through Sunday lunch, or you can choose the  lunches-only option. Please indicate your choice in your registration and online shopping cart.

  • Full Meal Plan (Saturday lunch - Sunday lunch): $48
  • Lunches only: $24

How to secure your space

Register: Fill out the registration form. Please give yourself plenty of time to complete the application, because it cannot be saved until submitted. (Your space is not reserved until your payment is received.)

Payment: Use the cart below to select your tuition and lodging options, then select "Add to Cart." After the page refreshes, select the "Checkout with PayPal" option and continue through the PayPal website.

SOIL aims at creating affordable, broadly accessible programs while offering instructors and staff fair wages based on the extraordinary quality of their work. Please consider your needs and resources carefully to determine what might be a stretch, but not a strain, for you to invest in this personal learning opportunity.

Reaching Nature Connection Storytelling Conference
Reaching Nature Connection Storytelling Conference
Price: $300.00
Tuition Sliding Scale $300–$400 :
Food :
Lodging :

Paying it Forward
Paying it Forward
Please consider contributing financially to another to make this learning and community building experience possible for someone else who wouldn't be able to attend without the support of others.
Price: $10.00
Donation :

We also accept checks or money orders payable to the following address and note the class for which you are registering in the memo field:

School of Integrated Living
11 Full Circle Trail
Black Mountain, NC 28711

Crowdfunding and Fundraising: Check out our Crowdfunding and Fundraising page for creative ways to engage your community and launch a "Community Supported Education" campaign. This approach can help support your investment in yourself, your community, the planet, and future generations.

Cancellation Policy

If you cancel, you may transfer your place in the program to anyone of your choosing, who will need to register online. You can also donate your place to someone who would not be able to participate without financial assistance.

A 50% tuition refund is available until April 1, 2019.
After April 1, 2019, there will be NO refunds.

If SOIL cancels this program for any reason whatsoever, 100% of your tuition will be refunded.

Contact us at info@schoolofintegratedliving.org with registration questions.

Check out Earthaven Experience Week

Join the homesteads, farms, and businesses of Earthaven Ecovillage for a hands-on, skill-building immersion in sustainable and climate-resilient community life. The learning journey weaves large-group discussions and classes together with intimate hands-on experiences in the village and farms alongside community members.

Learn More