Matt Flower

Environmental Educator and Early Childhood Specialist

Matt has over 15 years of experience as an environmental educator. He leads a variety of programs, including Forest Camp and the Preschool Environmental Education Project (PEEP) at the Urban Ecology Center. He earned a Nature-based Early Childhood Education Graduate Certificate from Antioch University of New England in 2017. During his graduate studies, Matt completed a fellowship with David Sobel and contributed innovative case studies for Sobel’s pathbreaking book, The Sky Above and the Mud Below, (2020).

Matt’s work to bring nature-based early childhood approaches to inner city Milwaukee children is on the cutting edge of this movement.

David Sobel, author and AUNE Graduate School Senior Faculty

On behalf of the Urban Ecology Center, Matt developed the Preschool Environmental Education Program (PEEP) for childcare centers, learning centers, preschools, special needs classrooms, and inter-generational facilities. PEEP was recently chosen as one of three site visits for the 2018 International WOW Nature-based Early Learning Conference. In 2019, he was presented the WAEE Non-formal Educator of the Year Award.

Matt describes his work as:

… a foundational approach to early childhood, rooted in the cycles and seasons of life — cultivating the scientific thinking, empathy, artistic expression, and socio-emotional essentials that make our urban communities vibrant!

Partnering teachers value his approach and recognize that the embracing outdoor learning has many benefits.

Nature can offer something that no teacher can replicate in the traditional classroom. It is unique, it is alive, and it is a true sensory experience for kids. When kids are out in nature, or at least engaged with completely natural materials, they ask more questions, they stay engaged longer and deeper.

JP, teacher at one of our partner schools

Matt presents his work at state, national, and international Early Childhood Education conferences and Environmental Education conferences. He also provides professional development for local partner organizations. Matt is an enthusiastic naturalist and documents the seasons through photo phenology.