This Knowing, This Speaking: Children's Conversations with the Natural World

Sarah Lawrence College Center for the Urban River at Beczak (CURB)
35 Alexander Street
Yonkers, NY 10701

At the center of this day-long group of workshops is the conversation – both children and adults have with the nature of nature itself – and, in turn, the various qualities of play, imagination, and wonder, indeed the very marvel of questions, each of us brings to our scientific and expressive understandings of the diverse and profound qualities we know as the natural world.  Using both the inviting indoor and outdoor spaces of CURB - each workshop will explore and share a specific viewpoint, that will have, as their common theme, our unique way of questioning, translating, and conversing with the language that is nature and its various unfoldings. And having acknowledged and initiated such a conversation, we hope, throughout the day, to find its practical application, not only in our work and teaching with children - but in our continued conversations with the phenomena and consciousness - that is both ourselves, and the nature we are and inhabit.

Sarah Lawrence College is an Approved CTLE Sponsor and offers 5 CTLE hours for this program.

Thanks to generous support from M&T Bank and the Seth Sprague Education and Charitable Foundation, scholarships are available. Please contact us at for more information


9:30am  Introductions

9:45am  Opening Activity

10:00am  Beginnings and Askings: Childhood and the Life of Imagining (Richard Lewis and Jeanie Yeo)

11:15am  Listening to the World: Inside and Out (Tanya Ferguson)

12:30pm  Lunch and Reflection Time

1:15pm  Returning and Becoming: The Magic and Science of Composting (Eli Caref)

2:30pm  Reflections and Knowings: Childhood and the Life of Imagining (Richard Lewis and Jeanie Yeo) 

3:15pm  Closing Activity


Richard Lewis, Director, The Touchstone Center for Children
Richard is a teacher and author, as well as the founder of The Touchstone Center for Children, an interdisciplinary arts organization, he began in 1969. The Center, since its founding, has developed numerous interdisciplinary arts and education programs for children of all ages in schools throughout New York City exploring the life of the imagination and its vital relationship to the natural world.

As an author he has published a variety of books for both children and adults. He has collaborated with children’s book illustrators Ezra Jack Keats, Ed Young, and Debra Frasier, and more recently with visual artists Susan Joy Share, Gigi Alvare, Elizabeth Crawford, Helen Buttfield and Noah Baen. In addition, his essays and writings on teaching and the imagination of childhood have been collected in When Thought Is Young, Living By Wonder and Taking Flight, Standing Still. He has also collected and edited a number of books of original writings by children including Miracles, Journeys and There are Two Lives. 

Richard has lectured widely, and taught at the Bank Street College of Education, Sarah Lawrence, Queens College, Lesley College, Western Washington University, Rutgers University, and City College of New York.

Jeanie Yeo, Coordinator of Professional Development, Wildlife Conservation Society
As an advocate of education based on nature and mindfulness, Jeanie Yeo has always been passionate about making personal connections with the natural world and teaching others the value of those bonds. Her graduate thesis at Sarah Lawrence College utilized nature and wildlife to implement a curriculum that engaged students’ curiosity and grew their awareness, by encouraging internal and external conversations with the world around them. As an advocate of the arts, through her ongoing work with The Touchstone Center, as well as being the Coordinator of Professional Development at the Wildlife Conservation Society, Jeanie hopes to inspire others to become compassionate, critical thinkers and activists who will instill in others the same appreciation for the complexity and interconnectedness that humans and nature both share.

Elisa Caref, Director of Education, Center for The Urban River at Bezcak
Elisa earned a BA in History from DePaul University and an MA in Environmental Conservation Education from New York University. She is a Brooklyn native who joined CURB in September 2017 as director of education. An avid non-formal educator for over a decade, she was previously the educator and then director of education at The River Project, teaching New York City students and teachers about Hudson River ecology, biology, and chemistry. Additionally, she was an adjunct Ecology professor at Yeshiva University, as well as a gardening instructor at Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. She also really loves fish.​

Tanya Ferguson, Teacher, The Blue Rock School
Tanya earned a BA, in Environmental Science and Anthropology & Sociology from Knox College, postbac in Place-based Art and MSEd Early Childhood and Childhood Education from Sarah Lawrence College. Tanya worked as an Environmental Educator and Program Director for Teaching Responsible Earth Education (T.R.E.E.) in New Orleans, LA for nine years. She developed and taught standards based, immersive life science programs that served 1300 public school students a year. Tanya also spent a year as a farm manager in Zimbabwe. She served as the Sustainability Coordinator for Sarah Lawrence college. She has a love for education, gardening, painting and sustainable living.