What do the creative arts, self-expression and personal experience have to do with science and sustainability? Everything.
Being able to communicate what we care about and why is a core competency for making a difference in the world. The Soulful Stewardship Method helps students discover, define and express their individual sense-of-place stories.
This proven framework provides tools and practices that work for all age groups, in all kinds of settings. Erica's Sense of Place Discovery Process helps evoke personal stories of connection to place, which inspires caring, and ultimately stewardship.
✓ Discover a sense of place and belonging no matter where they are.
✓ Integrate academic knowledge with personal experience.
✓ Bridge curricula in the creative arts, history, natural history and social science.
✓ Understand how a sense of place inspires stewardship and sustainability.
Choose from these Program Formats:
1. Youth Leadership: From Story to Stewardship Boot-camp
Empower creative thinking and create collaborative stories that connect people and place. Click here to videos of youth-created collective songs and stories.
2. Academic Programs
Customized for all age groups, including K-12, undergraduate and graduate school. Starts with a presentation of place-based arts (song, story, visual art) and a talk about the connections between people and place, and how those personal connections inspire stewardship. Includes learning about Erica's stewardship journey, as well as hands-on interactive experiences.
Includes presentation, talk and interactive experiences. Also includes 7-step process for find your personal sense of place story, support for creating your story and developing your ideas.
Builds on tools and skills to create a fully developed project, such a songs, essays, digital stories, visual stories, movement, performance, etc...
Professional Development for Educators
Erica's Soulful Stewardship Method is customized to provide professional development training for educators. Learn more on her Training page.
Offer a concert or workshop for your community of families, friends and neighbors. Can also include student performance segment. Learn more on her Community Events page.
"Place-based educator and author David Orr often writes that the ecological crisis is not a technical crisis, but rather a spiritual crisis. Erica’s work writing and singing about how people connect to places encourages us to move beyond technical solutions and perspectives, and to re-connect with the natural world in a way that acknowledges nature as a source of something more than a set resources for human use, but as a pathway for understanding and comprehending our life and life experiences." Torrey McMillan, Director, Center for Sustainability at Hathaway Brown School, Shaker Heights, OH
"With its emphasis on integrating writing, music, and a sense of place, Erica's workshop was incredibly inspiring... [She] gave us all an invaluable opportunity to reflect on our connections to the land, our personal history, and our best selves."
Walter Poleman, Faculty Director, University of Vermont, VT
"She helped [students] bring together all their ways of knowing, so they could better understand their relationship to place."
Tim Farnham, Director of the Center for the Environment, Mount Holyoke College, MA
“Erica has an impressive versatility. Her warm personality and knowledge of her subject matter gave our students a gift: she empowered them to express themselves and connect to the land in a way many of them had never experienced before."
Margot Martin, Journeys School, (K-12) Jackson, WY
"After three writing prompts, Ms. Wheeler asked for volunteers to share their writing. As she listened attentively to several students words, Ms Wheeler quickly scribbled notes on paper. Then within seconds she magically turned each students poetry into a folk song which she sang beautifully and spontaneously in the classroom. Students sat in awe, staring incredulously, and applauding after each song she created. Students were mesmerized by her talent and eagerly shared their creative writing in the class.”
All Saints Episcopal Day School, Carmel, CA
"A big part of the emphasis in first grade is to transition my students from just learning how to form the print of the English language to expressing themselves through their written words. My goal was to try to encourage discovering a sense of self in nature through the use of writing. Using Erica Wheeler's ideas, I developed writing prompts incorporating nature. These were some of the best writing prompts I have ever used. The students were excited, had vast amounts to write about, freely expressed their thoughts without fear of right or wrong, and made a connection to nature/place and themselves."
Saratoga Elementary School, Saratoga, WY
"Your music inspired me to write. Your workshop allowed me to open my mind and put my feelings on paper. Your visit helped me realize the connection between nature, music and writing.”
"You opened a new dimension of poetry to me. I learned to open my mind and express my feelings in paper. I loved the way you turned our ideas into songs. It gave me many ideas of different ways to write poetry.”
“ We learned valuable lessons about writing and poetry. I now feel inspired to write about things like nature. I truly appreciate the landscape around us.”
“Thank you again for coming to our class. You really inspired me to put my inner thoughts on paper and made me realize how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place.”
Youth Conservation Corps
"I have a deeper connection to nature and my roots than I knew before."
"I learned that sense of place is different for everyone, people have different stories/backgrounds."
"I will use what I have gained to continue making connections in my community and initiating a positive change."
"I discovered that I am a better writer than I thought and this is a really helpful to way to express my feelings"
" I learned how fun this can be—learning to be creative."
"It cleansed my soul. I feel better."
Prior Academic Clients:
- Four Rivers Charter School, MA
- Journeys School, Jackson, WY
- Sterling Community School, Sterling, CT
- All Saints' Episcopal Day School Carmel, CA
Youth Outreach Programs
- Americorps, Vermont State Parks
- Wyoming Youth Congress, Jackson, WY
- New Bedford Whaling National Historic Site (Youth Leadership Academy)
- Two Rivers USFWS, School Program, Brussels, IL
- Upper Mississippi National Fish and Wildlife, Summer of Paddling, La Crosse, WI
- The Walden Woods Project, World Wide Walden, Lincoln, MA
Undergraduate & Graduate
- Mount Holyoke College Center for the Environment, MA
- Antioch New England Graduate School, NH
- Paul Smiths College, Paul Smiths, NY
- Teton Science School, Graduate Program, Kelly, WY
- Sterling College, Craftsbury, VT
- Washington University, Saint Louis, MO
Environmental Educators Conferences
- Approaching Walden, Walden Woods Project, Lincoln, MA
- Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia
- MEES, Massachusetts Environmental Educational Society Conference
- NEEEA New England Environmental Education Conference
- Teton Science School, Teacher Learning Center, Kelly, WY