Dates pending for 2021. See below for who we welcomed at the last conference in 2020.
David Spraggs, Educator, Tairawhiti Gisborne, NZ
Gisborne Kindergarten Association
Married with four children and over 38 years experience as a trained Early Childhood teacher, David’s passion is provoking teachers to do more and be more when it comes to our children. Doing more sometimes means “doing less”.
He is very focused on sustainable practice and has had a number of opportunities to play in the woods in Europe.
David grew up with a father who believed that you teach your children skills and allow them the opportunity to utilise them. This comes through in his teaching.
David founded his company "Early Childhood Science Experiences and Consultancy" over 25 years ago after seeing a need in ECE in New Zealand surrounding high quality professional development and sourcing equipment that could be used in ECE for science education.
Keynote Presentation: Hunt for the Wilder Places
This keynote will explore the idea of the wild spaces in your communities and where nature is. Many people think it's about travel across town or out of town to the Forest.
It is about connecting children to nature wherever you are.
So lets start thinking more broadly about what nature education is and could be in Aotearoa
Brando Yelavich, Coromandel, NZ
At 26 years old I started making my mark on the world as an explorer. When I was 19, I became the first person to circumnavigate the coastline of New Zealand on foot. This 600-day, 8700km expedition changed every aspect of my life. Before, I was an ordinary person doing less than ordinary things. I woke up one day after a big night with my mates and it was like a switch had been flicked in my head. I wanted to do extraordinary things in my life. So I did. I have since become a bestselling author, motivational, inspiring speaker and a full time explorer. My expeditions have taken me across the Greenland Icecap, on a 70-day kayak circumnavigation of Vancouver Island, into the Nepalese Himalayas on an aid expedition and a 33-day trip around New Zealand’s most wild island - Stewart Island - and across Australia. My purpose is what makes me stand out. I do what I do to help others see their worth and realise they are capable of amazing things. I want to lower depression rates by being a powerful voice. I am relatable because I'm an ordinary person who’s doing extraordinary things, driven by passion and love, not ego or money. I make my own luck.
Keynote Presentation: Curiosity from the Soul
Brando talks about life-changing expeditions and a workshop about the importance of nature and how you can use it to be the best version of yourself.
Ruud Kleinpaste, Christchurch Bay NZ
Environmental educator aka "The Bugman"
Born in Indonesia, raised and educated in the Netherlands, Ruud migrated to New Zealand in 1978 with an MSc (Hons) in silvicuture, animal ecology and conservation from Wageningen University. Entomology was always an important hobby that later became part of his media persona: The Bugman. He mucked around on radio for more than 30 years and TV (Maggie’s Garden Show, What Now? to Buggin’ with Ruud on Animal Planet and Discovery Channel) and wrote stories for many different magazines, thus becoming the Marketing Manager for Bugs…
Environmental Education is now an increasingly important facet of his activities: "If we are serious about our Operating Space (the Planet) then we need to ensure that the younger generation are trained to become Science and Nature-literate".
Ruud is championing Biodiversity, biosecurity and environmental education projects from Fiordland to Hawkes Bay (Cape to City) and Bay of Islands, engaging whole communities in citizen science.
Try stopping him!
Keynote Presentation: Nature-Time Teaching
In this keynote Ruud explores nature-literacy, what it is, what it means and what it looks like across the developing years of childhood and all its influences. Weaving stories from each era, Ruud will inspire and encourage us at every level of education with examples how we can affect change and grow a greater narrative of nature literacy in New Zealand.
Genevieve Simperingham, Whangarei, NZ
Peaceful Parent Institute
Genevieve offers seminars and eCourses for parents and educators, professional development for teachers, as well as one-on-one counselling and coaching. Being one of 9 siblings, Genevieve, grew up on a beautiful 180 acre farm in rural Ireland. Despite living in a very dysfunctional family, she found peace, excitement and healing in the natural world, and this has hugely influenced her work. Genevieve has facilitated hundreds of workshops and residential retreats over the last 26 years. A big focus of the retreats has been immersion in nature, mindfulness, eating wholesome plant-based food and generally regaining balance. Genevieve has a Diploma in Psychosynthesis Counselling and is a Certified Aware Parenting instructor. She’s a feature writer for The Natural Parent Magazine (NZ and Australia) and has a busy following of 92,000 on her Facebook page and blog.
Keynote Presentation: Building Resilience Through Positive Play
Resilience is more important than ever in our changing world. How do we help children at their various stages of development navigate this uncertain landscape? How can we help ourselves? Certain kinds of play can relieve children of physical, mental and emotional tension. And all these benefits tend to be magnified when children play in natural environments. Genevieve draws from a wealth of stories and experience to bring the benefits of play alive in all its various forms.