What does, personal experience and self-expression have to do with environmental 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 and express their sense-of-place stories, no matter wherever they are from, or their previous level of experience.

Erica's Soulful Stewardship Method helps students integrate academic knowledge with their personal experiences. She provides powerful tools and experiences to help them define and express their individual sense of place.

Help students

  • Bridge curricula in the arts, history, natural history and social science.
  • Empower their creative voice.
  • Learn practices to gain a sense of place and belonging no matter where they are.
  • Understand why have a sense of place inspires stewardship and sustainability.

3 ways to work together

1. In the classroom/In the field 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

2. Half-day seminar 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.

3. Full or multiple day residency Builds on tools and skills to create a fully developed project, such a songs, essays, digital stories, visual stories, movement, performance, etc.


"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. I must say that 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


What middle school students are saying:

"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.”

Watch as Erica creates a song with school kids at the refuge.