Nature First

children with naturalist in woodsAbout Nature First

The Nature First program is a one of a kind nature education program that allows every first grader in the HSE district to visit, explore, and learn about Ritchey Woods Nature Preserve and the environment through a combination of curriculum-based activities and hands-on exploration. 

Led by Fishers Parks Chief Naturalist, Danesa Stolz, classes visit Ritchey Woods in both the spring and fall to experience the changing of seasons while also learning about nature and environmental stewardship. 

Stolz also visits each class two times during the year for lessons in the classroom that are directly tied to state standards and curriculum requirements such as science and math.


The Nature First program offers children the chance to explore and learn about nature in new ways. Direct experience in nature is important to a child’s intellectual, emotional, social, and physical development, and multiple studies have found endless benefits to environmental education programs, including increases in:

  • cooperation and conflict resolution skills
  • self-esteem
  • problem solving
  • motivation to learn
  • improved classroom behavior.

NEW: Homeschool Program

Fishers Parks has expanded the Nature First program to all homeschool families! For more info, email Danesa Stolz