EPISODE 175| Discover the transformative power of implementing outdoor education in homeschooling. Delve into the profound benefits of homeschooling for families, exploring how it nurtures personalized learning experiences. Our guest, a former teacher with a PhD in education policy, sheds light on the crucial role of outdoor education in homeschooling, emphasizing its ability to foster connections with nature and community. From discussing a new curriculum box tailored for outdoor education to sharing insights on effective teaching methods and hands-on learning using real-world problems, this episode equips homeschooling parents with invaluable tools to enrich their children's education. Tune in to learn how to teach science, and outdoor skills, and connect deeply with nature, creating engaging and meaningful learning experiences for homeschoolers.


ABOUT OUR GUEST | Rob Vagi is a homeschooling dad with almost 20 years of education experience including classroom teaching and education research. He also runs Wilder Outdoor Academy which provides outdoor education experiences that equip and inspire families to have great outdoor adventures. You can learn more by tuning into the Wilder Outdoors Podcast  (available on all major podcast providers) or by visiting www.wilderoutdooracademy.com.

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Podcast Transcript

Janna  00:04  Welcome to Homeschool your way. I'm your host Janna Koch and BookSharks Community Manager. In today's episode, I am joined by Rob Vagi. He is the owner and teacher of Wilder Outdoor Academy, we're going to be talking about how you can implement outdoor education and your homeschool journey, and delightfully hear from a dad who is an active participant in homeschooling his children. Let me introduce Rob.

Rob  01:01  Thanks for having me.

Janna  01:02  I'm excited. It's always fun to get different voices here on the podcast, I will admit that male voices are sometimes hard to come by not only in education, as I'm sure we're going to touch on in your experience, but also just in the homeschool realm. A lot of dads are supportive of homeschool but they're not necessarily in the day-to-day. Calendar, how are doing the classes? So it's always fun when we get to have a voice it's a little bit a couple of octaves lower than my own.

Rob  01:33  Sure. Well, yeah, it's it's a real pleasure to be a dad, homeschooling my kids, right? That's, that's just part of my life. But it is it is different. Being a dad, especially as I get into the space is a bit. So a bit about my background, right? I am a husband and father to three beautiful kids and my wife, Michelle. But I was also a public school teacher for a long time in what feels like another life. And so I have a lot of training in that. And I think in some ways, that's a little bit of an unfair advantage. But I always tell folks, it really just gives me confidence. Anyone can teach their kids, right?  I think that's been a theme that I've heard you share on this podcast quite a bit. But yeah, being a dad and being a former teacher brings a lot of interesting background to it. And another interesting thing is that I also have a PhD in education, but in education policy. So my focus was less on teaching kids how to read and more on the laws that affect kids in schools,

Janna  02:40  You said that word policy and I immediately went Rut-Roe

Rob  02:44  It's fun, it's engaging. And you know, and if you're involved in homeschool right now, there are you know, some there's some tensions right now in some states, as homeschooling becomes more popular. So I would I would very much encourage anyone who has an interest to get involved in policy if you don't have an interest. We need folks out there advocating for the issues that matter to our families.

Janna  03:07  Well, we certainly do. And we're fortunate enough to live in a country where we have those opportunities.

Rob  03:12  Well, and Janna, you grew up as a homeschooled child, right? I didn't know recently, I didn't know until recently that homeschooling was not legal in our state until around the time that you were a homeschool student. We're not in the same state. But yeah, so those are rights that we need to fight for, for sure. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, well, and I mean, I have to say, I am grateful that I grew up at a time when I sort of came of age or became apparent at a time when I could take it for granted. Because it was an option. And a few years ago, I read a book by a guy named Jeff Bethkey. And the book is called Take Back Your Family. And, you know, there's there's a lot in there. But the basic premise is that around the Industrial Revolution, we restructured society in a way that it has led to some benefits, but by and large has hurt us as people and hurt us as families. And one of those things has been breaking families apart. And now I started this in school. I don't know if folks are familiar, but before the Industrial Revolution, you know, folks lived in largely an agrarian society or in agrarian societies, and folks would live in small communities and work together and work with their families. That was just what you did. Public education didn't come around as an institution until we created child labor laws. And that also coincided with the time when we started developing factory work. So we needed places to send parents to go work, the kids are no longer allowed to work. And so what did we do we created schools in the model of our factories. And so there you know, there are a lot of people who take issue with what we've what we're left with and now a modern society, or in our modern society. But one of the things that often goes on talked about is that We are separated as families and that it's breaking us apart. And that really convicted me that was really heavy, are weighed heavily on my wife and I. And so you know, I don't know that there's a definitive solution to solving that problem. But homeschooling is a tool that we can use to bring our families back together to bring the connections and the bonds that have made us human for as long as we've been around. Making those central to our lives.  I'll tell you, there was one other thing that really hit me in it, it hit me because I was a teacher. And it, it hit me because I used to do it. And we took our oldest and if you meet our oldest, he's amazing. He's a really cool kid. He's a great leader. He's so very sociable and talkable, talkative, his ability to engage with adults from very early on is amazing. He's clever, he's inquisitive, he's funny. But a lot of the things that you would measure in school, he is not so great at, and we sent him to preschool, as everyone does. And like, I just remember it, this is kind of funny. But around Halloween, the kids had to cut out pumpkins and like, make a little Jack lantern, right? And all the kids had their little pumpkins and whatever. And our kids was like, a torn piece of orange paper with some tape on it. And like maybe, like, I don't even know if there's black paper involved. Like it was just, it was clear, that was not his gift. Right? So we went to our first parent-teacher conference, and I had done a ton of these. And it was my first time being on the other side. And all that they focused on, were the things that our kid couldn't do, or that he couldn't do yet, or that he couldn't do in a way that they thought was right. They've been focused on his running, they said his feet were too turned out when he ran. They didn't say a single positive thing about the kid. And all I could think is this system is not designed for my child's success, right? And so I think it was those two things that really resonated with us, too, you know, to homeschool our kids to pull them out of schools, and to do it ourselves. And thankfully, both my wife and I have the confidence to do that I have a work situation that allows me to be a little bit more flexible. So I'm able to do it. Less than my wife does. She's the primary teacher, but we both teach our kids, which is really a blessing.

Janna  07:27  So were you ever able to see the deficit in the system before you personally had children? As an educator with a Ph.D. in policy? Did you see how broken it was before you got on the other side?

Rob  07:44  That's a great question. You know, I had a professor when I was in my undergrad, and it was the semester before we were going to go out into the world and teach. And so we had all student taught, and we're gonna go out. And he sat us down. And he said he gave us this long lecture. And he was a high school band director for a long time, he said, guys, 'parents are crazy'. And they're going to do and say irrational things. But you'll, you need to know that you will not understand until you're a parent. And at the time, I was like, whatever, you know, and then I witnessed it. I remember a co-worker coming in his kid was in the band marching in being really angry that I scheduled photos on a day when her couldn't be there. And I was like, I don't know. But you know, that sort of thing I experienced. It wasn't until I had kids that I stepped back and said, Oh, this is not this is not good. But I know I never questioned I never questioned that, you know, I was responsible for someone else's children for eight hours a day. And that may be something might be wrong with that. You know, it. It didn't occur to me until I had some skin in the game. And I had, I had a vision for what I wanted our family to be.

Janna  09:09  Now that we're in a place in our society, where homeschool has really become a viable option for so many more, right? I'm not quite sure that the majority sees that just yet. But we definitely have seen it grow exponentially since the pandemic. And so you were in it, you saw that you didn't want your child and then subsequent children in it. So how does that now take us through how you get to where you are now with this outdoor education? So I mean, it's a total juxtaposition. You were in a classroom, you know, fighting for policies, and now you're in a flannel and a cabin, saying everyone should just learn outside.

Rob  09:51  Yeah, well, I mean, I still do a lot of those things right? So I still do policy research for a living. I wish I did. A little bit more with homeschooling, or with the outdoor work that's being done with public policy, maybe we'll land there someday. But yeah, it's I mean, I don't know that it was a transition. I think that home being a homeschool parent did was it gave me an opportunity to do something I had already been doing my whole life. So even when I was a music teacher, I love the outdoors, the outdoors where I found healing and freedom. When I was a kid, right, I would get my fishing pole and hop on my bike, I grew up in South Florida around the Everglades. And just go, go out into the woods and fish and do some stuff and build some stuff. And that was a place where I could start to feel capable and competent. And so when I started working with boys, who, especially boys, I mean, I worked with boys and girls, but my heart was always for boys who were struggling with something maybe who'd experienced something really difficult in life. And where I taught there was no shortage of, unfortunately, those kinds of experiences for my students. But when I had a particularly challenging student, connecting with them, was always my goal right connection, connection, connection, they don't care. What does it they, they don't care what you have to say, until they know you care. And so connecting with kids in the outdoors has just always been something I've done. And I did that with students who needed a space. I always knew they needed a space to feel strong, to feel capable of facing something wild and dangerous. And to know that they had some ability to control it, right? So whether it was camping trips with kids or taking them out, you know, hiking up mountains and things like that in Arizona, which is where I taught I live in Minnesota now. I've always been doing it, right? But you know, the outdoor work I do now actually has less to do with my own kids, although we do a ton in the outdoors. You know, my kids are way more comfortable fishing and know a ton about identifying animals. And you name it we were we were foraging acorns last fall and my daughter built a maggot collection. And that's all she talks about. Now she wants to collect more maggots. I think it's gross. I try not to tell her it's gross. But like that's her thing. So like my kids know about that my kids do not know the difference between football and basketball.

Janna  12:30  So well, either the Americans don't know the difference between football and soccer. So I don't think that's too much of a stretch.

Rob  12:37  That's yeah, yeah, it's, you know, we'll work on it. We're working on it. But it's all that to say is like, my kids are very capable in the outdoors. But they're also really young. You know, our young, our oldest is in kindergarten, the outdoor in homeschooling came about because I, there's some family friends that were really close, I'll tell you the story, the origin story, as it were of what we do now. But throughout my whole life, especially since we've had kids, I have been the guy that a lot of my friends will go to when they have a child that's interested in the outdoors. And they don't know what to do, right? They might be the basketball and football parents like my kid wants to fish and shoot a bear and live in the woods. And I don't know what to do. And so I say great, let's be friends, and we'll figure it out. And so, you know, mentoring kids has been something I've always done, it's something I was doing. And we have some family, friends who that was the situation for and I'd taken two of their boys out a lot fishing and taught them how to fish and you know, just being an outdoor uncle to these kids. And one of the things that we love doing in our family is having wild foods meals. And it's just a way to share something that we love with folks and to help them connect with the world that they live in the community that they live in, and food in a new way. And so just the rule is everybody brings something that they found or harvested in some way or that they grew, you can have garden stuff in there as well. And, so we had this family over and at the end in passing, the mom said, you know, I wish there was something like this for homeschool kids because our boys especially are now almost teenage boys are finding that they don't have any spaces for them. And all the co-ops that they have access to tend to be a little friendlier to girls, maybe without realizing it. And man to just be great if there was a space where they could be a little wild, you know, explore the edgier side. And so, part of my teaching background is in curriculum writing. I wrote and published a hip-hop curriculum for anyone who's interested If it's out there, just look up my name and look up hip-hop, and you'll find a whole other life again other lives. But we put together a class. And so it just started where every Tuesday we'd meet, and we learned some outdoor and survival skills for two hours and eventually got about 11 kids with that class. And it's it's morphed and it's changed, it's continuing to grow. But it was just an opportunity to help those kids feel connected and competent in the outdoors.

Janna  15:31  Do think that there are more opportunities than ever, for children to be able to learn what they're interested in, regardless of where they're growing up? I think your Wilder Outdoor Academy is proof of that. Right? You, you, I know you guys are working on some really exciting stuff that's going to be accessible to anybody, as opposed to you know, in the past, homeschoolers typically ended up being not in the city, they ended up being a little bit more spread apart, maybe on some land. So it was it was just different. And now we're seeing that the whole community is changing. And so you have inner-city families, homeschooling like you never would have seen that. I would venture to say even almost 10 years ago. So how exciting to you now are kind of seeing a need, and you're able to meet that need. And it's at a time when it's growing every day.

Rob  16:32  Yeah, yeah. Well, and I'll say, you know, this is actually a great chance to share a little bit about what's going on. So you know, there's a lot that I do, I host a podcast to equip and inspire families to have great outdoor adventures. Does anyone want to check that out? Right, Wilder Outdoor podcast. But we offer in-person classes to families, you know, but we do a lot with Homeschool families. And, you know, we were trying to think of how do we make this more accessible. And for a while, we had a video curriculum, and I sent it over to some friends of mine who live in like New Jersey and work in New York City. And they're very outdoorsy people, but they are struggling with like, how do we make it happen in the city now. And I sent them the videos and they were like, like, we don't have access to a lot of the stuff we need. And so we got to thinking. And what we're doing now is we're putting some of our courses in a box. And so that's something that'll be coming out here in the next few months. So that people can participate. They'll have access to all the instructions, but we're sending all the materials you'll need to do some of our most popular lessons, wherever you are. Whether you're in New York City or you're in rural Minnesota, it'll work. You know, we talked a little bit about talking about how education can work for homeschool parents in the outdoors. And I'd love to touch on that. If that's all right.

Janna  18:53  Absolutely, yeah, I think that it's a great lead-in because while subscriptions and boxes and lessons are great, there are so many things that are available to us organically, that maybe homeschool parents aren't even aware of. So let's kind of lift the blinds and give them some great ideas on what is just right at their fingertips.


Rob  19:15  Yeah, so some of the things I'm going to list today I'm listing them almost through the lens of a curriculum development specialist, right? But these are things you can do with your kids. These are things that we do with our kids. If you live in a place where outside exists, which I hope is everyone these are things that you should be able to do. I think for a lot of people what they struggle with is the idea or the divide between what constitutes like the outdoors and nature and not right and like if there's a tree near you. And like some, any plants like you're in nature, if there's air, like you're in nature And chances are you probably live in a place where there's more going on than you even realized at this point. So see, I just I urge folks to realize that they they live in the outdoors in some capacity, wherever they are. Now, if we're going to think about, you know, what do you do, as a homeschooling parent, right, as your kid's teacher? This is something that I would advocate for, regardless of whether we're talking about the outdoors or whatever you do. But have your why be really clear. And what I what I mean by why is why? What are the goals you want to accomplish through this? Right? And so if you want your kids to be engaged in the outdoors, what, like, why, why are we doing it? That's what's a win? What is success? And when we were you know it, you and I were both teachers, education candidates. At some point, they made us right out of the philosophy of education, right? And the reason I say this is because a lot of times we can get caught up in what we do, and wind up in a different place than we ever thought we would be. And I'll just give you an example. So this last summer, for me was really interesting. So I grew up fishing, I love fishing. And of course, as a dad, I want my kids to go fishing with me, because that's what I want, right? I want to a fishing buddy or the whole team of fishing folks. And so I took our kids fishing. And when did you know it half of them can't work a rod and reel? Whenever we would catch a fish, they, they hook it too far back and you have to clean up that mess. And then you'd get knots and then one kid's got a hook in their hand and one kid put a hook in your hand and, and it's just a mess, and you're grumpy, and they're not happy and there are no fish. Or if there are fish, it gets like, overshadowed by the fact that it's such a grumpy situation. Right? And so did our kids go fishing? Yes. Did I cultivate a love of fishing in our kids? Absolutely not. So what I did instead was I sought out some help from actual x Huddleston help from a guy on Instagram, an influencer in fishing and conservation. But he's got a really great method for catching, setting up fishing situations where kids catch fish in ways that's exciting to them and where they have fun. And it's just, it's success like they're actually catching fish. And so I just hooked up with this guy, I learned a ton. And last summer was the first summer where everybody fished, everybody had fun. And we caught fish. And there weren't, there might have been one hook in someone's leg at one point, but it wasn't too bad. You know. And so in that way, like my methods and my outcome, my methods, my philosophy came together, right? So I just say that to say like, you don't need a complicated philosophy, you don't need something crazy. It's not some big esoteric, you know, scholarly exercise. But it is it is important, right? Because if your goal is just to expose kids to the outdoors, that's great. And some things will work. If your goal is like mine, which is to build competence and confidence in the outdoors, it's going to be different. There are some activities that will get you there, and some of them might get you somewhere else. So I just laid that out there as like a good first step. So that being said, I've tried to lay out will say, levels of engagement with the outdoors. So I've got four levels of engagement that I think of when I think about how do you teach your kids in the outdoors. And the first and the easiest way to get your kids in the outdoors as a homeschool parent is to just get your kids in the outdoors. Right. The cool thing about homeschooling is you get to decide where school happens. I don't know if any of y'all have been a teacher or if you've you know, if anyone of your listeners who has interacted with public school kids or kids who go to any kind of school. Ask them what their favorite subject is. Without fail, it will be PE and recess. Right?

Janna  24:11  My homeschool kids would still say that.

Rob  24:14  Right? And it means because it's fun and it's outside and why can't we do other stuff outside? There's there's a ton of research. So if it's right, I mean, like it's literally a lot of research as as a researcher I'm saying like it's there's a good body of research supporting the role that the outdoors plays in our mental and physical health, right? Everything from memory, memory and attention to having a positive impact in reducing depression. Reduces mental fatigue. I don't know in Japan, they have this thing called forest bathing. Have you heard of that?

Janna  24:48  I have actually yes, but I don't know that I'm well versed in what it actually means.

Rob 24:56  Oh, I don't I don't all right. I gotta stop and say I don't know that I'm like well versed in it. But I mean, the idea is that doctors over there recognize the benefits of being in the outdoors. And so there is a very structured experience of forest bathing that has a Japanese name that I would butcher if I said it. But the point of the story is like, there's a lot of science behind the benefits of being outdoors. So why not just pack up lunch, go out to a park and do your school out there? Right, that's one option. We can all do it right. Option two would be what I call teaching through the outdoors. So the outdoors are sort of a vehicle for delivering content to your kids. And in teaching, we would call this standards versus methods, right? So standards would be the things that the students are supposed to know do or the the dispositions that we hope that they have, at the end of an experience. The methods are how we get there. Just as an example of how I wound up teaching hip hop, right, I was a band director, I was, I was a tuba player, a very serious tuba player, I married a ballet dancer. And what happened was, I got a job in a really rough neighborhood in Phoenix, Arizona, and I had a bunch of kids who did not want to do anything in school, much less sit in my music class for 45 minutes. And I needed to figure something out. And so what I realized that I could do is I could take something that they were interested in, which was hip hop music, and teach the national standards in music education through hip hop, right? So like one of the things that that group profession has decided, all students need to know is how to write read, and write music. So on the writing end, right, we could write songs, that's, that's pretty straightforward. You know, create beats and things like that. But the reading part was a little tougher, but what we could do is teach them how to read beats, right? So if you listen to hip hop at all, there's, there's always a beat. And there's always a way to represent that in Western musical notation. And so we, I taught them how to read music from the ground up using hip-hop beats. And so they learned the same skill that a kid in a band or an orchestra class would learn, they just did it through a different method through a different vehicle. Right? And so that's the we can do the same thing as homeschool parents. And I think a lot of people do that intuitively. Like if they know their kid is interested in dinosaurs, like, my, my middle kid right now is dinosaur obsessed. We'll count dinosaurs sometimes. Yeah, that's it's embedding the standard through Well, in the outdoors, you have lots of options. Right? So you know, real basic, low-hanging fruit. Use natural manipulatives in math, instead of buying those cheap, plastic blocks that connect and, you know, do all their connecting things. Use acorns, use rocks, use whatever you have access to use blades of grass, leaves, whatever you'd like. Pattern Recognition, right? That's, that's a thing. Leaves, leaves are amazing. Tons of things that you can do spotting similarities, and differences. If you want to go a bit further, you got older kids, right? I kind of live in the woods. This background looks deceptive. I kind of do live in a cabin, but I also kind of don't. We live in the woods. And so what we've got is more squirrels than we know what to do with. And in fact, my daughter yesterday wouldn't go outside because the albino squirrel looked at her. 

Janna  28:36  I mean that sounds pretty scary.

Rob  28:40  It was looking at her and she didn't want to go back out. So but all it says we got a lot of squirrels, right? So what you can do, what's interesting with squirrels is they're very territorial. And so we could really easily just map out our yard and count the squirrel population one day. And then from there, it's springtime. If every squirrel has three babies, how many babies are there? If squirrels in this quadrant, have two babies and five squirrels in this quadrant, die, and you don't want we don't want that. But you know, it happens. How you know how many squirrels do we have left, right? So there are lots of ways that you can embed these sorts of things. Now, those are all sort of math focused, you know, but especially folks who are familiar with Charlotte Mason, they're going to be attuned to this through nature study. Right? So there's a lot of writing and reading about nature and those sorts of things, writing poems, just whatever, whatever you find your kid taking an interest in or whatever is available to you. Just think about what you can teach through it. homeschool parents, I think are probably some of the best at figuring that out on their own. They just might not realize that it's laying there in nature for them.

Janna  29:49  I think what a lot of parents might not realize is that they're doing it and there's a purpose behind it. They just didn't realize that there was purpose behind what they were doing right? So it's like, everyone get outside, you know, the four walls are closing in and we need fresh air. And that just seems like you said, so intuitive as a parent just like you kick your kids outside. I mean, it's a fresh air. But like it reverse engineer that all of the science behind why you're doing that it actually makes us parents look really good.

Rob 30:21  Absolutely right? I don't know, I, a good friend of mine always says trust your gut. There's a lot going on in your gut. If your gut says your kids need to be outside, they need to be outside. Yeah. So alright, so third level, right, if we're thinking about it is how deep are we going down the rabbit hole. The third level is what I would call, I wouldn't call this it is called this project-based learning. And so here we get a little bit more involved, which is where we take a real world problem, or issue, whatever it might be. And we, we learn as we work through it, right? And, again, I'll give you an example from my teaching days. I'll give you some examples for the outdoors here in a second. But this is my favorite example. Do you remember Kid President?

Janna  31:14  Oh, no, I was homeschooled.

Rob 31:16  This was like maybe 10. It was like, would have been 10-12 years ago, there was there's this kid. And it was right when like viral YouTube videos were kind of starting to, like, be normal. And he went viral. And he was just this kid who made these awesome videos. He was like, What are you going to do with your life? And at the time, I had a class of students and I had a few in there that needed to be there because they need some extra love and care. And so I turned that class into a rock band class. And these kids were learning songs, learning to play instruments, they, you know, putting everything together. And at one point, I said, Well, watch this Kid President video. It's like he's in fourth grade. He's changing the world. What do you guys do? Come on, let's let's get something together. And so the kids decided to put on a benefit concert to benefit, folks who were experiencing cancer, we had, unfortunately, a teacher who had passed away that year, because of breast cancer, but they decided to put on a concert, there's a lot that goes into putting on a concert, including the music, right? So they to do this, they had to learn all the songs that they want to do, they had to, you know, set out a set list, they had to learn about lighting, they had to learn about graphic design, they had to learn about promotion, they had to write things and speak to people and do all sorts of things. And so through that project, what we wound up doing was learning a ton of stuff. Now, with project-based learning, what'll happen a lot of times, is you don't get to go as deep as you would write like, it's not quite like math, right? With Math, when we study math, we go deep, and we learn math in isolation. But when you do project-based learning, you tend to learn math and a bunch of other things. And so it can be a little shallower in terms of the amount of content, but much broader. And also it sticks better. Right? You'll never forget an experience like that. And so, for homeschoolers, what can we do? Right? Some great ideas, plan a pollinator garden, and have your kids figure out the whole thing. Right? It is great for math, it's great for biology, it's great for all sorts of things. So you know, have them map out the area that they want to plant, have them figure out the amount of seed that they need to plant, what kinds of seeds How much is that going to cost based on the area that you're trying to fill up? What time of year? Do you have to plant it? What kinds of pollinators live in your area? What roles do pollinators play? Do they have other food sources nearby? Are there any issues in your area that might be killing the pollinators? What can we do to fix that? Right? These are real, like very real problems that a lot of our communities face and they're also great resources to, to learn from. And so another great example, I haven't done this one, and I'd love to do it is to create a documentary about a conservation issue in your area. And what I have learned through a lot of the cool things that I do, I'll either, you know, speak with folks on the podcast, I meet him through the outdoor education side of things is that in every community, there are a handful of passionate advocates about some any issue you could imagine. There is someone out there who that is what they eat, sleep, and breathe. And if you give them the opportunity to inspire young kids and get them on board, they'll run with it. A great resource is the Isaac Walton Foundation. So every chapter is different. I don't know what it's like in other places. But they're a conservation organization nationally. And we have a chapter here that has a Youth Science program. And so these kids do citizen science, but they also pick conservation projects like I found out just recently.  There were turtles that were getting run over, we have a huge like turtle human interaction problem where we live. And they're getting run over at a local middle school. And so they redesigned an area of the middle school to allow the turtles to breed effectively in a way where they'd be safe, and a place where they would be safe. And so loads of great resources on that front, and certainly things that you can do. And then of course, through the process, what you're going to be learning about, you're going to be speaking with local experts, experts about local ecology, you're going to be learning how to write emails and make phone calls, you're going to probably be writing reports, if you want to get really ambitious, have the kids write press releases and get on the news. It's a lot easier than you might think, especially if you got kids doing great work, you know, they're learning about audio, video, tons of great opportunities there. So those are what I would call like, those are ways that homeschool parents can teach traditional content in and through the outdoors. The last level, sort of like the deepest commitment to the cause, that I would, I would say, is, is what I would say is teaching the outdoors as a subject. And that's what I do. Right? And it's something I'm passionate about for a lot of reasons. But I think, like, again, a story might be the best way to illustrate. So as I mentioned, when I was teaching I came across, you know, I worked with a lot of kids that had a lot of challenges. And there was one student in particular who I was really close with, and he had faced some really devastating loss in his life. And it was it was coming out in in lots of bad ways that weren't helping him or anyone else. And he and I would hang out a lot. But I like I knew he needed more. And so what do we do? Do we go climb a mountain? Why do we go climb a mountain, climbing a mountain, because it's really hard. And it is legitimately scary. And it is also legitimately achievable for that kid. And he didn't think he could. And so what the outdoors in that situation did for that kid was it gave him a space to face something bigger and scarier than him which life was giving him a lot of. But in this case, he had a guide, and he had the opportunity to feel a sense of agency over that really big scary thing. And to get to the top. And when we got to the top, that's when we say, hey, let's talk about life. And I love you, I think you're amazing. And look what you just did you are a champion. And so that young man, he's not that young anymore. You know, he's experienced some hardship in life. But anytime he and I connect, and I see his experiences that are sort of grounding him in life, they're in the outdoors. They're in the outdoors. And so again, my Y has been grounded in confidence and competence. And when I think about why that's important for kids today, regardless of whether you're homeschooled or not, I think the anxiety that we see in so many kids, right, there's it's documented, it's research-based, like anxiety is going through the roof for young people. I think and I don't have research on this. But I believe that a big part of that is because we have so tamed the world that they live in, that they don't know how to overcome or confront a threat, even if it's just imaginary, right? And so the outdoors, create an opportunity, or it should say experiences in the outdoors, create opportunities to teach kids how to confront a legitimately dangerous thing in a way that is safe and useful.

Janna  39:12  I am excited to see what you guys are going to be coming out within the next couple of months with your curriculum and your boxes and just excited about the accessibility that it's going to be for people who are right now your local folks are being able to experience this hands on but it's going to be available to the rest of us who are kind of out here going, what do we do? How do we do this? Where do we go? I think that the excitement is building the momentum for getting outdoors and putting down the screens and connecting more as family as communities. I'm really I'm seeing the potential and it's hopeful. I'm getting hopeful again, that we are going to maybe turn a corner in our world and start reconnecting on personal levels and I think the outdoors is a great place for that to start to happen.

Rob  40:03  Oh, I love that. I love that finish that the first box, the box we're putting together right now is a Knot course,

Janna  40:10  Yeah, outdoors, sign me up, I want to get one of those boxes. I'm excited. My daughter had to watch the movie Jaws for one of her classes. And one, one of the scenes they're tying is like, you know how to tie this knot is like, of course, I know how to tie this knot to tons of nautical knots, I guess. I don't know. And I was like, I don't know how to tie a knot like that. I think maybe I need to know how to tie knot like that.

Rob  40:32  Yeah, well, and you know, it's really interesting. The more you go down the rabbit hole, there are there are knots for the outdoors. There are knots for ships. There are knots for rock climbing. Like it's, it's an there's some overlap, but it's not a not always a ton. You know, who knew Rob, I mean, until you start doing it, you don't know. Yeah, because it's an the whole thing is like every knot is a solution to a problem, right? Like it is one of those things that is a little bit like math, like you have to study it kind of on its own for a little bit at first. But like you need to do as fancy of a connection to stuff in the outdoors as you might on a ship, you know, making sure that it can hold, like the weight of a ship, whatever you're tying to. Whereas on a ship, you might not you know need to do somebody's lashings or something like that. You know, and we're talking about the stuff making it you know, the products that we'll be offering and things like that, that's you want to give your your folks some like easy, low hanging fruit in terms of outdoor education, you know what they can do to start this process, regardless of where they are, who they are, what they have. And the first thing I always say is go camping, and doesn't need to be like it can be as glammed up as you want. But go camping, and what camping is, is it's a way to go live outside with at least a little bit less of the security you had when you're inside. And there's you know, how to go camping and and all the best practices. Another conversation is actually have some great podcast with friends if they want to listen to, to my side of things with some friends who, who offered some great resources on how to camp well, but like go camping, and you're gonna give something up. And something is going to be a little bit harder and weirder than it was when you're in your house. And your kids will be drawn to something, there will be something maybe it'll be the bugs, maybe it won't be the bugs, maybe it'll be the fire, maybe it'll be the fact that you let them hold a knife and they threw it into something and the knife was cool. Like they're gonna like something. And those two things, what was hard? And what did your kids love, and take note of that. And I here's the hard part is you have to go camping again. And this time, take that hard thing, and lean into it a little bit. Take take a little bit more away, but figure out how to do well with it. You know, if it's a fire, maybe you needed lighter fluid to start your fire. Right? Or you you know, you brought like 50 newspapers, well, this time, don't bring any newspapers. Do a little bit of research on one match. Figure that one out, right? And then maybe maybe you're pretty good with that. Maybe you're good. You know, a lot of folks grew up with these like TPA frame hybrids, and someone teaches them how to put a bundle of you know, Tinder in it and just let it go well, this time, don't bring a match. See what that's like, right and learn, learn. And you'll get there. The people have been doing this for as long as we've been people and with your kids do the same thing. Lean into it. What did that what were they interested in? And if it's possible, learn about it together. Right? That's, that's the best. My kid loves animals. My oldest kid loves animals when they go into the outdoors. So we spent a lot of time on that we spent a lot of time fishing, we spent a lot of time hunting, spent a lot of time tracking, tree identification. My kid is, again, does not know the difference between pick two sports, I don't care what it is, soccer and, you know, hockey, he can tell you the difference between a white oak and red oak. And it's because we just spend those times outdoors and so as you go down the rabbit hole you'll eventually find that you as a family are becoming very capable and competent in the outdoors.

Janna  44:30  Rob, where can our listeners find more information about what you and Michelle are doing? 

Rob  44:38  Sure, well, what we're doing in our home is kind of what we're doing. It's we don't do that on social media so much but with Wilder, Wilder Outdoor Academy.com is our website. It's currently under renovation, but by the time this is up and running, it should be or by the time this episode releases it should be up and running again. We've got that we got a Facebook page Wilder outdoor Academy, we do post things. Whenever we do a class with kids that's up there and then we've got the podcast so Wilder Outdoors podcast, have a ton of great and really interesting people. Everything from moms and dads who do really cool crazy stuff in the outdoors to mountain rescuers to add a firefighter explained the science of camp fires. That was amazing. Blew my mind. That's one of the best episodes from my standpoint, it wasn't the most downloaded but one of my favorite ones. But yeah, so check us out on any of those. And you can follow me on Instagram at it's just rob Vagi, our OB V AGI. I think there might be a.in there. I don't know. But

Janna  45:43  Well, we will put everything in the show notes. So nobody has to guess at what if there were the dot is in Rob's handle there. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your expertise and your heart to educate children and families not only on connecting but connecting with each other and in the outdoors. Well, thank you. Thank you guys. Until next time, bye bye