St. Vincent Early Learning Center outdoor classroom earns certification

Special to The Message

Nature Explore has honored St. Vincent Early Learning Center’s new outdoor classroom as a Certified Nature Explore Classroom. Nature Explore is a division of the nonprofit Dimensions Educational Research Foundation.

St. Vincent ELC’s outdoor classroom, which was formally blessed and dedicated on July 12, is the only certified space in Evansville, and is part of an ever-expanding network of more than 480 like-minded spaces nationwide.

A youngster enjoys the new Outdoor Classroom at St. Vincent Early Learning Center.
Photo courtesy of St. Vincent Early Learning Center

“St. Vincent Early Learning Center is delighted to earn national recognition as a Certified Nature Explore Classroom,” said President/Executive Director Kim Mulfinger. “Thanks to the many supporters who made this classroom possible, we can extend learning into a wonderful outside environment where children can enjoy the many opportunities that nature provides. While St. Vincent ELC is one of 20 Nature Explore Classrooms in Indiana and the only one in Evansville, we hope this will be the start of a movement in our community to incorporate more opportunities for children to interact with the natural world.”

“St. Vincent Early Learning Center’s commitment to providing research-based and nature-rich learning offers a wonderful example to programs and educators throughout the country,” said Heather Fox, director of communications and outreach for the Nature Explore program. “These spaces inspire hands-on activity, creativity, play and plenty of time exploring the natural world for children of all ages.”

These unique outdoor classrooms offer interactive, open-ended materials and elements that allow youngsters to use their creativity, imaginations and initiative. Research consistently shows that children who learn and grow in Nature Explore Classrooms exhibit enhanced concentration, develop creativity and problem-solving techniques, manage stress in healthy ways, and develop skills across the spectrum of academic and creative learning.

About the St. Vincent Early Learning Center:
Founded on the values of the Daughters of Charity, St. Vincent Early Learning Center is an accredited early childhood education and care center that starts all children on a pathway to lifetime success and coordinates programs and services to help their families thrive. For more information, visit or

About Dimensions Educational Research Foundation:
The mission of the Dimensions Educational Research Foundation is to transform children’s lives through meaningful daily connections with nature. Its Nature Explore team provides research-based outdoor classroom design services, educator workshops and natural products. More information about Dimensions is available at