…Everyone left, refreshed, relaxed and thinking about new ways to support exploration in nature

Brevard Early Head Start: IN-Service training with Rusty Keeler.

The Brevard county Early Head Start program staff has had the pleasure of participating in a full day training with Rusty Keeler on natural play space environments.  Staff started their day actually experiencing nature as a young child would through a visit to a local botanical garden.  This was a great start to the training because it put the teachers in the shoes of the child and changed their view and perspective on the world outside our doors.  Some teachers started the day a bit hesitant, but everyone left, refreshed, relaxed and thinking about new ways to support exploration in nature.

An afternoon presentation of Mr. Keeler’s work, ideas, and brainstorming from staff provided a great starting point for staff to begin planning on ways to support outdoor experiences with nature, getting away from the toys and the climbers and moving toward sensory exploration and discovery through water, sand, plantings, gardens, trees, etc.  Staff created implementation plans and had an increased appreciation for what the natural environment has to offer, not just the children, but adults too!


Natalie Jackson, Brevard Early Head Start

Rusty Keeler has beauty in mind for children’s joy…

Want beautiful places for children to play?  Hills and hiding spots?  Ponds and trickling creeks?  Sand and climbing rocks?  Rusty Keeler has beauty in mind for children’s joy,.  His designs are inspiring the playspaces of this generation. An enthusiastic, open-hearted speaker, Rusty gives  engaging presentations with a highly interactive delivery.  Audiences take away  ideas and energy.

Mary Rivkin, associate professor, University of Maryland, author of The Great Outdoors

The crowd reaction to Rusty was overwhelming!

Rusty served as the keynote speaker for our first statewide training on nature play spaces in Maryland.  The audience included educators, administrators, park managers and facilities staff.  Rusty’s inspirational talk motivated the diverse group and helped to create a momentum for nature play in Maryland.  His presentation empowered the audience to create these nature play areas with such enthusiasm and expertise that the group felt it was just so common sense and achievable.  The crowd reaction to Rusty was overwhelming, and we in Maryland feel happy to have Rusty on our team for promoting nature play.  One of our favorite quotes from the day was “The entire conference should be Rusty!!!! He was so positive and engaging!”.  One attendee even created a new scale on the evaluation form in order to rank him higher.

Sandi Olek
Maryland Department of Natural Resource