Making Connections Monday: Meet Natalie James, @BrenhamISD Outdoor Education Specialist @BISDoutdoors

BISD Outdoor Education Program

Natalie James, Outdoor Education Specialist

If you’ve ever visited the Outdoor Learning Center at Brenham Elementary School or if you attended the Brenham ISD Family Science Night last year, then you may have met Natalie James, Outdoor Education Specialist for Brenham ISD. Natalie is a dynamic, passionate educator with two degrees from Texas A&M University in Agricultural Education and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership. Although Natalie started her career as a classroom teacher, she was excited to move on to a role in which her impact on students and teachers could be greater. When she read the job description for the BISD Outdoor Education Specialist, she knew it was the perfect fit!

Natalie believes in fresh air and sunshine. The Outdoor Education Program at Brenham ISD provides pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade students and teachers with opportunities to work and learn outside. Natalie believes these outdoor learning opportunities not only increase knowledge of natural resources, but also help reduce stress. This year, Natalie will work on building capacity for her program and growing her volunteer base. Over the summer, she became certified to be a Project Wild Facilitator and is also working on developing a Junior Master Naturalist Program for fourth grade students. In October, Natalie will present at the Texas Master Naturalist Annual Meeting to share how she has integrated the Outdoor Education Program into BISD schools.

The Outdoor Education Program offers many opportunities for students to take their learning outside. Natalie is currently working on developing a pilot program that would allow fourth graders to install a native prairie on their campus. In addition, fifth and sixth graders travel to Lake Sommerville each year to participate in the “Outdoor Classroom.” Eighth graders this year will also see lessons that focus on the local importance of land and water. All of the lessons Natalie plans and implements are designed around standardized testing data, which gives Natalie the ability to meet the needs of every learner and support what is happening inside the classroom.

If you are interested in volunteering for the Brenham ISD Outdoor Education Program, please visit the volunteer tab on the website at bit.ly/BISDOutdoorEd or contact Natalie at njames@brenhamk-12.net. Volunteers are always needed for garden care, working with students and gathering materials. You can also connect with Natalie on Twitter at twitter.com/BISDOutdoors.

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