UMF Professor Patti Bailie, left, receives Maine Environmental Education Association Lifetime Achievement Award from Olivia Griset, co-director of the MEEA. UMF IMAGE

FARMINGTON — Patti Bailie, associate professor of early childhood education at the University of Maine at Farmington, recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Maine Environmental Education Association. The honor was awarded at MEEA’s annual environmental education conference on May 10, at the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences in Hinckley.

MEEA is the statewide professional association that advances the field of environmental and outdoor learning and the state affiliate to the North American Association for Environmental Education.

“We are so pleased to announce that Dr. Patti Bailie has been selected for a Lifetime Achievement Award from our organization to recognize her significant contributions in her career to advancing the field of environmental education and outdoor learning. Patti is not only a critical thought leader in the state of Maine, but is widely recognized as a national leader in the field of early childhood nature-based education and we are so incredibly lucky she lives and works in Maine,” said Olivia Griset, co-director of the MEEA.

Bailie has worked in the field of early childhood environmental education for 30 years. She is dedicated to nature-based education, its value to a child’s educational development, and seeing it integrated in schools and early childhood programs.

“I am so honored to be receiving this award. MEEA is a wonderful organization that supports nature-based education for children in the state of Maine. Recognizing my contribution to this field means so much. Since I moved to Maine, I have enjoyed working with pre-service teachers at UMF for the past ten years as they become teachers who embrace outdoor learning in their public school classrooms. I look forward to the continued success that MEEA has in supporting outdoor learning in all settings,” said Bailie.

Bailie joined UMF in 2014 and has helped pioneer the nature-based learning program and natural outdoor learning environment at the new UMF Sweatt-Winter Child Care and Early Learning Center. The Center provides quality child care for the area and prepares crucial early childhood educators with its state-of-the-art lab school.


Previous to her work at Farmington, Bailie worked at three different nature centers in the Midwest. In addition, she was the assistant director of the Nature-based Early Childhood Certificate Program at Antioch University New England; founding director of the Schlitz Audubon Nature Preschool in Milwaukee, Wis.; and co-director of the Early Childhood Outdoors Institute in Omaha, Neb.

Her consulting work includes working closely with Sesame Street on nature-based programs for young children. She initially contributed nature-based programming ideas to their writers for their 40th anniversary season and more recently for a new venture called “Nature Explorers” that has aired on HBO and will be aired on PBS this summer.

She is co-author of “Partnering with Nature in Early Childhood: A Guide to Outdoor Experiences” and “Evaluating Natureness: Measuring the Quality of Nature-based Classrooms in Pre-K through 3rd Grade.” She also contributed two chapters to David Sobel’s book “Nature Preschools and Forest Kindergartens: The Handbook for Outdoor Learning” and was part of the writing team for the “Nature-Based Preschool Professional Practice Guidebook.”

Dr. Bailie has presented widely on the topic of nature-based education and serves on the advisory board of the Natural Start Alliance.

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