Online Training Course

This online training course encourages you to test the scope of your own NQ as a youth worker and reflect on your connection to nature. The course consists of five parts, with some reflection questions at the end of each part. You can skip some of the tasks or do them in your own order, there is no need for you to follow our logic. Create your own learning path and enjoy!

We recommend that, before you start this online course, you first take some time to read the Practice Brief which gives a comprehensive overview of the theoretical and practical foundations of the NQ concept. These foundations are described in more detail in the full reports of the Theoretical Framework and the Manual for Youth Workers, available from this site.

Secondly we recommend that you start this course by making your own Nature Intelligence profile. You can do this with the pen & paper version of the NQ36.

1. INTRO

2. DIMENSIONS

Nature intelligence comprises four dimensions of cognition, emotion, spiritit and action. Each dimension includes three qualities or ‘competencies’. These competencies are described below in the flower model.

Cognition

  • Literacy: knowledge about nature and natural processes
  • Curiosity: a positive eco-centric attitude towards nature, respect for nature
  • Outdoor skills: practical knowledge and skills for staying outdoors

Emotion

  • Connectedness: the ability to connect to and care for nature, and to identify oneself as part of nature
  • Embodiment: the appreciation of direct sensory contact with nature, even under adverse conditions
  • Open-mindedness: having an open mind, appreciating all aspects of nature, even things that others might find scary or disgusting.

Spiritual

  • Transcendence: realization that the natural world that surrounds us is alive, ensouled and interconnected
  • Mindfulness: taking in nature with all senses, having a mindful sensory experience of nature
  • Authenticity: the capacity to be true to oneself, to be an authentic person guided by one’s by own inner principles

Action

  • Health: the ability to use nature to self-regulate one’s health and well-being
  • Engagement: taking action to make the planet greener and more sustain­able
  • Socialization: enjoying spending time with friends in nature and use a shared interest in nature to strengthen connections with peers

Does the person with a high nature intelligence that you had in mind fit with the four dimensions and its competencies?

Do you agree with the model? Are there any competencies missing? If so, which one(s) would you like to add?

Is there any competency that seems odd or misplaced to you? Why?

3. STORIES

To deepen your understanding of the four dimensions, we offer you four stories to listen to. If possible, listen to them with your eyes closed or during your daily nature routine. After each story, we invite you to reflect on some of the questions.

Which dimensions and competencies of NQ do you recognise in this story?

What is the message of the story to you?

Have you had or do you know of a similar experience? How were the NQ dimensions present in your experience?

How would you feel in this situation?

Which dimensions and competencies of NQ do you recognise in this story?

What is the message of the story to you?

Have you had or do you know of a similar experience? How were the NQ dimensions present in your experience?

How would you feel in this situation?

Which dimensions and competencies of NQ do you recognise in this story?

What is the message of the story to you?

Have you had or do you know of a similar experience? How were the NQ dimensions present in your experience?

How would you feel in this situation?

Which dimension(s) and competencies of NQ do you recognize in this story?

What is the message of the story to you?

Do you share Greta’s concern about the planet and the climate?

How do you feel about behaving sustainably?

4. EXERCISES

We have selected for you some exercises that may help you to strengthen your NQ competencies in the domain(s) of your choice. There are several exercises you can choose from. You can do all of them at once or spread them out over a couple of days. What is important is that you reflect on everyone of them.

Go out to nature to a nice place and find a stone. Spend a whole day with the stone: show it to some friends, take it for a walk, visit a gallery, have a meal together, watch a movie, wash it, sleep next to it. Interact with the stone throughout the day, learn about it: touch it, smell it, watch it, speak with it. You can ask questions like: “Where are you from?”, “Why are you here?”, “How old are you?”, “What do you need?”, etc. Listen to its answers. On the next day take it back to its original place where you found it.

Reflection questions:

How does this activity make you feel like? Was it hard to let go of the stone? What did the stone represent to you? How does the place where the stone lives feel to you now?

Go to a forest or another area with trees. Walk around and choose a tree. Pick a leaf under this tree and take it with you. Continue walking in the forest and choose another tree. Place the leaf from the first tree under the new tree and take a leaf from this new tree. Choose another tree and repeat the same as many times as you want. At the end place the leaf from the last tree you visited under the one you started with.

Reflection questions:

How did it feel? What does this exercise represent to you?

Think of one person that inspired you to love and seek out nature

Reflection questions:

Was there anyone that inspired you? If so, was it someone from your family, a parent or grandparent, or brother or sister, or nephew or niece who took you out to nature? Or was it a public figure, like Greta Thunberg?

Do you know what exactly you were inspired by? Was it an action, a perspective or something else?

If you cannot think of anyone who inspired you, then can you think about what you can do to inspire other people to make a connection with nature?

Find an animal near where you live that you have not seen before, or that you don’t get to see so often. Google it and discover its superpowers.

Reflection questions:

What is this animal’s function in nature? How does this animal feel to you? What does it contribute to the ecosystem? Are you even aware how many animals actually live in your vicinity?

Think of your latest shopping. Check how many items in your bag are packed in plastic.

Reflection questions:

Can you calculate the percentage of items with the plastic vs the ones without? Do you find that shocking? Do you have an alternative to shop the items without the plastic cover?

Go to any kind of nature-rich setting that you like and bring with you an empty photo frame. Select a spot from which you can overlook a large part of the landscape. Try to capture the landscape with the frame you brought. Turn it around or set it close or far as you wish. Find the piece of landscape in the frame you like the most.

Reflection questions:

Think of why you like it so much. Which aspects of it made you like it?

Does it remind you of something?

What do you feel like doing when you see and think of this piece of landscape?

Go to a nature-rich place, where the buzz and sounds of city life are only in the background. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds and silences for at least two minutes. Try to recognize different sounds in the area.

Reflection questions:

Can you hear any birds? Maybe some insects? The rustle of the wind through the plants? How many different sounds do you hear here? If you wish, make a drawing of a symbol that represents each sound you have heard. Think of the last time you heard silence? Where was that? In what circumstances?

Prepare the following items:

  • Find a bowl, big enough you can put your hands in it.
  • Cup of sand or soil.
  • A candle (preferably one that floats on water).

Slowly you will place each element one by one in the bowl. The first element you insert is water. Just pour it in the bowl and observe the movement of the liquid as you do it. Do you wet your hands slightly? Is it hot, is it cold?

After a few moments, put the sand or the soil into the same bowl. Try to focus on the grains that rest at the bottom and those that continue to float on the surface of the water and descend slower.

Finally, place the candle in the center of the bowl, light it and observe the fire for a few moments. Focus on its warmth and its shape.

The last thing you add in the bowl is the air. Before blowing, close your eyes and try to relive the sensations caused in you by interacting with water, fire, and earth. Then finish the ritual by blowing out the flame.

Take few moments to feel the ritual.

Reflection questions:

How did you feel during the exercise?

What did each element represent to you?

How was it to add elements one by one?

What new insights about nature and yourself did you gain?

5. CLOSING

You have reached the end of the online training course.

Which insights did you gain about (your) Nature Intelligence?

How was the learning flow for you?

How practical were the exercises for you?

How practical is NQ for you?

What is your next step towards improvement of NQ?

Which behaviours or attitudes could you change?

What else is popping on your mind?

Thank you so much for taking part in this training course. In case you wish to participate on one of the residential training courses, organised by the partners of this project, please contact them here.

Netherlands: Anatta Foundation
Italy: Kamaleonte
Czechia: Nature Spirit
Netherlands: IVN
Slovenia: Ambitia Institute