09:00AM - 04:00PM

Botanical Center

Forest Days

The Forest Days programs at the GBC strive to instill an appreciation of the natural world in young children. The rhythm of our time together is fluid; focusing on learning-led outdoor play that encourages curiosity and exploration.
Check out the Forest Days FAQ Here

What is Forest Days?

Forest Days at the Greenwich Botanical Center is a nature immersion program designed to encourage young children to grow socially, emotionally, and physically through interest-led play and natural exploration. Our Explore with Me program is for children ages 12-36 months and our Little Rangers program is for children ages 3.5 to 5 years old. Our daily schedule flows organically from what nature presents each day. We are an all-weather program and we will be meeting outdoors, rain or shine, in all safe weather.

Why Forest Days?

The Forest Days programs at the GBC are based on the Forest Days school model. Forest Schools spend part or an entire day out in the woods as part of their school’s curriculum.
Although the Forest Days programs are not associated with a school, we adhere to the Forest Days philosophy. Our belief that spending unstructured time in the forest stimulates each child’s innate curiosity. Outdoor nature play develops observation skills, problem solving, logic and reasoning skills and encourages taking risks.

We are grateful to Eliza Minnucci and Meghan Teachout for their encouragement and guidance given throughout their book, A Forest Days Handbook. This guide has provided and continues to provide the framework for the Little Rangers and Explore with Me programs.

Meet Our Team

Jennifer Butler
Laurel Scarlata
Kristen Paradise

Jennifer Butler

VP of Youth Programming & Forest Days Program Director
Jennifer Butler grew up in Greenwich and is an attorney turned stay-at- home mom to three little girls and a sweet Golden Retriever. Her dream to help found a forest-based program for preschool aged children began during the countless hours she spent outdoors with her toddler. After researching and discovering the vast benefits of outdoor play, she took her idea to Greenwich Botanical Center where she sits on the Board and serves as the Vice President of Youth Programming.

Jennifer received her J.D. from Pace University School of Law and B.A. from St. Joseph’s University. In addition to sitting on the Board of Greenwich Botanical Center, Jennifer now serves as the Director of Forest Days. She and her husband, Barron live in Cos Cob with their growing family.

Laurel Scarlata

Director & Educator
Laurel Scarlata is native of Greenwich, where she inherited her love of the outdoors and nature from her father, Jim McArdle of McArdle's Florist and Garden Center. 
                                                                                                                      Laurel holds a degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s in Special Education and recently received her Nature Based Teaching Certificate Level 1. She previously taught preschool in town for nine years as well as Kindergarten and First grade for the town of Greenwich. She has three teenage sons and lives in Cos Cob. Her hobbies include hiking with her family, gardening, birding, cooking, and reading.

Kristen Paradise

Kristen Paradise moved to Greenwich at the age of four. She grew up with a love for animals, outdoor adventures, and competitive sports. Horses became one of her passions and she learned to ride at age 7 and soon competed locally and then nationally. She then became a riding instructor and taught children ages 3 and up. Her love of teaching children continued when she became a preschool teacher at St. Saviour’s Nursery School and then at The Preschool at Second Congregational Church. She attended Greenwich High School, Boston University and Manhattanville College, earning a BA.

She currently resides in Cos Cob with her husband and 4 children. Some of her hobbies include running, gardening, hiking, and exploring in the local trails with her children and dog.

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