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Transformational Practices for Nature Connection
& Social Emotional Learning

Thursday, August 1st 9am-4:30pm
Friday, August 2nd 9am-4:30pm

A space to explore, heal, and co-create.

This two-day training is for educators, parents, counselors, therapists, or anyone who seeks simple, effective tools to enrich group culture, support mental health, deepen nature connection, encourage inquiry, and guide people to build inner-strength within community. We will offer core nature connection and SEL practices, activities, and games that you can easily incorporate into your professional setting or at home. For educators, this includes resources to help align nature connection and SEL with educational standards.

You will spend two days enjoying the beautiful Kiva Center outdoor learning space in Lefthand Canyon. This 80-acre captivating property features towering rock formations, dense pine forests, and the calming flow of the Lefthand Creek. The area offers a pristine and wild expanse, providing a picturesque backdrop for outdoor adventures and exploration.

This course may be a good fit for you if you relate to any of the following:

  • You inherently know that enhanced nature connection leads to improved quality of life

  • You believe that true learning and growth happens best when children feel connected and cared for

  • You are seeking simple, effective tools to support overall wellbeing in your children, students, or clients while still meeting the bureaucratic demands of the workplace

  • You are feeling caregiver burnout and hope to reignite your inner-spark of inspiration, curiosity, and joy of learning

In this two-day training, you will:

  • Experience the power of nature first-hand through modeled outdoor activities that cultivate curiosity, wonder, and connection

  • Explore tools to implement and facilitate sit spot* and council* in your work

  • Experiment with simple ways to integrate nature-centered SEL and learning from nature (biomimicry*) into an educational or therapeutic setting

  • Immerse yourself in a healing and connective space with fellow professionals who face shared challenges and opportunities 

  • Receive a resource handbook with a curated collection of activities 

  • Receive Continuing Education Unit (CEU) credit for hours completed

*more information below

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Cost of training:
$280 early bird pricing
$350 after 6/28
Scholarships available!
Apply here:
Tuition is waived for all Title 1 school employees.
Email to secure your spot (please include your job title and name of school you are employed at in your email).
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Schedule Overview
Day 1: 
Introduction to the land and each other
Group exploration outside -- the art of observation
Nature journaling 
SEL activities: sit spot and council 

Day 2:
Connection to nature, ethos of relationality 
Expanding on learning from nature (biomimicry)
Sharing activities and resources
Weaving together learnings from both days
Participants practice facilitating activities 

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“[Council] has been absolutely life changing in our class in this short period of time….We have done other types of trainings with SEL curriculum, and this is different because they’re not learning a lesson, they’re learning something about themselves- it’s not taught as a lesson but rather, it’s an experience.” 

Teacher participant from past Kiva training

Meet the Facilitators

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Kasey Schelling is the Founder and Executive Director of The Kiva Center. Throughout the past 10 years, she has passionately dedicated herself to developing the organization's nature-based educational model, an iterative process that has combined professional development with the dynamic process of responding directly to the needs of the children. With experience as a public school educator in both the USA and Spain, she has a unique ability to see education from a birds-eye view to create transformative learning spaces.

Throughout these past 15 years of working with youth, she has seen that when the conditions are right, there is an immense potential for children to channel their inner-genius in service to something greater than themselves. She founded The Kiva Center in 2014 with a vision to create a culture that uplifts one another to embody the gift to the world that we are, living lives full of purpose and love.

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Lily is the Kiva Center after-school program coordinator. She has a master's degree in biomimicry, and a deep love for translating nature's genius to human challenges.


In addition to her work with Kiva, Lily is currently a Visiting Instructor at Pratt Institute where she teaches a course she created titled "Biology for Biomimicry'', and she has collaborated with the ASU Biomimicry Center, The Biomimicry Institute, and Learn Biomimicry on projects and curriculum development.


She is the host of her podcast "Learning from Nature". Lily’s ultimate passion lies at the intersection of biomimicry, place-based experiential education, and engaging change-agents in this exciting field.




What is Council?

"Community Council is a practice of deep listening and transparent expression. This practice helps participants to honor all perspectives, build trust, and resolve conflicts while speaking and listening from the heart. Similar practices with the same principles have been implemented in classrooms globally.  Some variations of this practice are referred to as Community Circle, Peace Circles, Restorative Practices, or Socratic Dialogues."

Learn more here.

What is Sit Spot?

"Sit Spot is a practice where participants choose a special spot outdoors to regularly visit alone to quietly reflect and observe their inner world in relation to their surroundings. This spot is visited over time, daily, weekly, or whatever best suits the participants' schedule in order to incorporate consistent engagement. Sit Spot can be adapted in many ways to meet the needs of the educational environment."

Learn more here.

What is Social Emotional Learning (SEL)?

"SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.

SEL advances educational equity and excellence through authentic school-family-community partnerships to establish learning environments and experiences that feature trusting and collaborative relationships, rigorous and meaningful curriculum and instruction, and ongoing evaluation." 

Learn more here.

What is Biomimicry? 

"Biomimicry offers an empathetic, interconnected understanding of how life works and ultimately where we fit in. It is a practice that learns from and mimics the strategies used by species alive today. After billions years of research and development, failures are fossils, and what remains hold the secret to our survival.

The goal is to create products, processes, and systems—new ways of living—that solve our greatest design challenges sustainably and in solidarity with all life on earth. We can use biomimicry to not only learn from nature’s wisdom, but also heal ourselves—and this planet—in the process."

Learn more here.

Why is nature connection important?

A systematic review of 84 publications revealed that nature immersion experiences can improve self-esteem, peer relationships, and academic performance. On top of this, their review found that nature immersion can ignite feelings of social support and connection to peers, positively influencing their sense of belonging. (Mygind et al.)


Another systematic review analyzed 147 research studies. Researchers concluded that nature-specific outdoor learning, through practices like Sit Spot, has “measurable socio-emotional, academic and wellbeing benefits, and should be incorporated into every child's school experience with reference to their local context.”(Mann et al.)

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