Monica Wiedel-Lubinski brings over two decades of leadership in nature-based education to local, regional, national, and international platforms. Her love of nature-based education blossomed at Irvine Nature Center where she was the founding director of The Nature Preschool. She launched several programs including a parent/child nature program, an immersive forest kindergarten, and a long-standing partnership with a preschool for Baltimore children in homeless situations. She was a key collaborator in the design of a Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom and visioned an annual Nature Preschool Conference (2012), which earned a 2016 Innovator of the Year Award under her leadership. She has since co-founded Wild Haven Forest Preschool (2017) and serves as the founding director of the Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools (ERAFANS). She advocates for nature-based education through teacher training, outdoor learning programs, and consulting to help others create nature-based programs and natural play spaces. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Art Education and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Towson University.
Karen Madigan has worked closely with children, families and fellow educators for over twenty-five years. She believes that children learn best when they spend time in nature, soaking up the sun, hugging trees, and breathing fresh air. Karen has been an educator at Irvine Nature Center in Owings Mills, Maryland since 2009 and was instrumental in establishing The Nature Preschool. Her prior teaching experience in a traditional preschool setting gives her a unique perspective on teaching methods and best practices for children ages three to five years old. Karen has helped organize Irvine Nature Center’s annual Nature Preschool Conference for a national audience since its inception. She enjoys mentoring other teachers and frequently presents about the value of outdoor learning and play. Karen is a founding member of the Eastern Region of Forest and Nature Schools (ERAFANS) and served on the Board of Directors from 2016-2019. She received the Margaret O’Neill Early Childhood Nature Educator Award in 2013 for her outstanding contributions to the field of nature-based early childhood education.