The guiding philosophy of Thorne’s education programs is summed up in our mission, “To build Earth stewardship by connecting youth to nature through joyful, hands-on, place-based environmental education experiences.”

Thorne endeavors to teach students how to think, not what to think about nature and the environment. Thorne provides joyful education experiences, because we believe that all students learn best while having fun. Thorne teaches in nature or uses nature artifacts to teach in the classroom, because we believe nature provides an engaging, enjoyable venue for discovery. Thorne believes that inspiring an excitement and passion for education in our students helps support their growth as life-long learners. Thorne’s programs encourage hands-on learning, because we believe that meaningful education grows out of experience – when students use their senses to touch, hear, see, or smell something in nature, they can more deeply understand it. Finally, Thorne teaches place-based education, because we believe that direct association with the local environment is not only the best way to build a lasting connection to the natural world but is also fundamental to understanding and relating to global environmental issues.

The primary goal of Thorne’s programs is to build Earth stewardship, which we believe is best achieved by guiding students through a continuum of learning. The continuum begins at age three to five where we help our students to develop an awareness of the natural world by exposing them to the wonders of nature. Next we work with students ages six to eleven to help them acquire the knowledge and skills needed to understand the interconnections between nature and humans. Finally, for our older students, Thorne strives to instill respect for nature and stewardship of the Earth, by preparing students to weigh the impacts of their own actions on the natural world and make choices that cultivate a thriving, healthy environment that supports all life.