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OpEPA - Bringing Nature into Learning

Reconnecting children and youth to nature so they can build peaceful and regenerative communities

OpEPA centers on the advancement of nature-based and regenerative education, heritage interpretation, and weaving. Using a holistic approach to learning, we activate students' and teachers' regenerative capacity by creating integral (academic, emotional, and experiential) learning experiences that allow students to start realizing and embodying their interconnected and interrelated self.

HundrED 2023
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Overview

HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED Global Collection 2023

HundrED 2022

Web presence

1998

Established

131K

Children

3

Countries
Target group
Teachers
Updated
March 2024
To move forward into a thriving future, we must facilitate learning experiences to fall back in love with nature and flow with life. Bringing nature into education and education out into nature is critical in embracing regenerative education. As we deeply connect with nature, we connect with ourselves and others, activating our capacity to come into proper relation and flourish.

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

In today's urbanized world, children have minimal exposure to nature, which impairs their ability to develop healthy relationships with the environment. Education must emerge as a pivotal force in tackling current environmental challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss, nurturing a profound human-nature connection that empowers individuals to heal and regenerate our planet.

What does your innovation look like in practice?

Assume we want to build a future in which all life on the planet can thrive together. In that case, providing children the learning environments to develop a deep and long-lasting relationship with nature. Through this process, they also strengthen their connections with others and themselves. This work has three pillars: re-connect; awaken the naturalist within, and embody action for regeneration.

We provide students access to nature in short to 35-day programs that combine academic knowledge, physical and experiential immersions in nature (awe), and socio-emotional learning. These experiences strengthen the students' capacity for critical systems thinking, empathy with nature, and empowerment for action (change-making).

Incorporating nature as an essential and powerful ally in education and working with a living systems approach facilitates breaking the barriers between humans and nature, strengthening students' ability to think and act using a living systems approach.

How has it been spreading?

Our work has spread to many educational organizations and schools around Colombia using our approach or parts of it. Last year we reached 13 new cities in the country with our solution. It has also been recognized globally as a successful and innovative project addressing global educational challenges. A +160k GBP project based on our approach is currently being implemented by OpEPA. We continue to develop and move forward with teacher training programs that directly provide teachers with skills and tools in Latin America. Working with ally organizations nationally and internationally, we constantly create resources to share with and stimulate educators and families worldwide, we are leading a global initiative with IUCN and launched the Greening Schoolgrounds Global Action Agenda.

If I want to try it, what should I do?

A teacher can incorporate nature-based activities outdoors to engage students' senses, fostering curiosity and connection. Mentoring critical thinking and emphasizing interconnectedness, alongside activities nurturing the mind, body, and soul, can deepen the bond with nature and promote collective action for regeneration.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability

OpEPA gives children the opportunity to connect, understand and interact with nature in a profound way. This innovation combines academic knowledge, physical and experiential immersions in nature, and socio-emotional learning in a holistic way.

HundrED Academy Reviews

The possibility to be supported while creating resources and to get inspired by the range and length of experiences would make it scalable. Moreover, ourdoor education is being promoted and this innovation would set it in nature while discovering it.

This is a great innovation because there is a real need for nurturing connectedness with the environment to build empathy and an awareness that drives young people to make choices that promote a healthy and sustainable future for all.

- Academy member
Academy review results
High Impact
Low Scalability
High Impact
High Scalability
Low Impact
Low Scalability
Low Impact
High Scalability
Read more about our selection process

Media

Launch of Nature Based and Outdoor Education Diploma for educators and teachers. OpEPA & Universidad San Sebastian, Chile https://postgrados.uss.cl/programas/diplomado-en-educacion-basada-en-la-naturaleza-y-al-aire-libre/
Nature Based Education for Regeneration - a pathway forward - Luis Camargo - OpEPA in Cornell University Civic Ecology Lab https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_QD3urbe2M
How nature can play a role in children's wellbeing – BOLD
Luis Camargo (OpEPA) brings nature to the center in the launch of a movement for educational transformation in Colombia: Aprendizaje Inspirador. https://www.eafit.edu.co/noticias/agenciadenoticias/2023/eafit-comfama-y-cosmo-schools-se-unen-en-un-movimiento-transformador-d-la-educacion
Biodivercities Nature-Based Education Network - WISE
Learning for Regeneration: The Stepping Stones | eePRO
Education for Regeneration—Why EE Is Natural for Personal Growth and Understanding: Part 2
Education for Regeneration - A Nature-Based Approach
Outdoor Classroom and Ecoclub La Cabaña Nature Reserve
Living Maps
Students connected by the mountains of Bogotá
Aprendiendo de ciencia ciudadana y educación basada en la naturaleza - Marymount muy verde | Colegio Marymount Bogotá
'Entornos de Aprendizaje que están transformando la educación' con Luis Alberto Camargo
Conectados a la Tierra desde pequeños - Ruta Maestra
Liderando el cambio más allá de la sostenibilidad - Ruta Maestra
Caminando hacia la educación basada en la naturaleza - Ruta Maestra
La OpEPA: Reconección con la tierra
Entrevista en la Película Futur simple (espanol)
"We need a wave of people who transform this world into a healthy world"
Un emprendedor social nos muestra el camino para reconectarnos con la naturaleza.
Educación basada en la naturaleza: aprender lejos de los salones y las ciudades contaminadas

Implementation steps

Definition of objectives with the school
Clear articulation of the goals and objectives of the nature-based learning program. Identification of the desired outcomes related to students' perceptions, attitudes, knowledge, and environmental engagement.
Design of curriculum and activities with schools
Design of the curriculum that integrates nature-based learning experiences into the existing educational framework based on the schools' objectives and priorities. Definition of engaging and hands-on activities that promote a deeper connection with nature, environmental understanding of students, and their regenerative capacity.
Logistics and resources definition with teachers
Planning of the logistics of implementing the program, including scheduling, location, and necessary resources such as outdoor spaces, educational materials, and equipment.
Teacher Training and Engagement
Implementation of comprehensive training for teachers, focusing on the principles and benefits of nature-based learning, regeneration, instructional strategies, and facilitation techniques.
Student Enrollment
Implementation of informative sessions with students, parents, and guardians about the nature-based and regeneration learning program, its goals, and the benefits of participation. Seek consent from parents or guardians for their child's participation in the program, ensuring they understand the nature of the activities and any potential risks involved.
Student Orientation
Implementation of orientation sessions for students, introducing them to the program, its objectives, and safety guidelines.
Nature-Based Education and Regeneration activities implementation
Implement the curriculum, providing students with regular opportunities for hands-on experiences and immersion in the natural environment. Integrate ecological concepts, environmental issues, and sustainability principles into the learning activities, encouraging students to reflect on their experiences in nature and engage in discussions about the environment, fostering critical thinking and deeper understanding.
Data Collection and Evaluation
Implementation of data collection methods to review and analyze results, and reflect on achievements and lessons learned.

Spread of the innovation

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