Place-based symposium

Students from Snake River Montessori School in Idaho Falls hike Blacktail Butte on with a Teton Science Schools graduate student. The nonprofit is hosting a place-based education symposium later this month.

How much do you know about place-based education?

If your answer is “not much,” you’ve got a chance to change it.

Teton Science Schools, the area’s resident place-based education proponent, plans to host a free virtual symposium from 4 to 7:30 p.m. April 23 with presenters who will delve into the educational philosophy.

“The goal is to have educators sharing ... all of the exceptional place-based education that’s going on around the world,” said Leslie Cook, Science Schools’ senior director of educator development.

The symposium used to be a mostly in-house and in-person affair for Teton Science Schools educators. But with the overnight switch to virtual events last spring, the nonprofit has opened the event up to an international audience.

“Last year we had I think over 300 educators who attended, and this year I think we’re on track for that if it’s not even bigger,” Cook said. “I think that’s a great advantage — getting more of these stories shared with more educators.”

Around 50 presenters will participate, giving attendees the chance to hear a wide variety of stories and ideas about place-based education. The symposium will follow five tracks: connecting with community partners, empowering young leaders, rebuilding with equity, finding hope and understanding, and emerging trends in place-based education.

Carolyn Finney will be the keynote speaker. Her work as a cultural geographer focuses on the relationship between black communities and outdoor spaces and recreation.

“What we hope she will do here is challenge us to think about place, education, and who has access and who is represented in the stories we tell in place-based education,” Cook said. “The message that she has to share is one that Teton Science Schools can learn from.

“And I anticipate that others who will attend the symposium can learn from her message and the stories that she’ll share as well.”

To register, go to

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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