Biophilia: Pittsburgh is the pilot chapter for a global Biophilia Network of creative minds dedicated to strengthening the bond between people and the natural world through education, discussion and action.

Join Pittsburgh’s new network of creative minds working together to strengthen the bond between people and the natural world.

Biophilia: Pittsburgh August Meeting: Connecting Young Children with the Natural World

UPDATE — NEW LOCATION: Our August Biophilia: Pittsburgh event will be held at Café Phipps and feature a selection of light fare and drink for purchase, including  beer, wine, coffee and Phipps Splashes.

Join us on Thurs., Aug. 2 as we discuss the importance of connecting young children with the natural world. Research has shown that our direct and positive experience with nature fosters curiosity and wonder, shapes our holistic well-being and strengthens our community.  At The Discovery School at Beechwood, a nature preschool in partnership with the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, children build and strengthen that relationship each day through play and exploration of their natural environment. Using photographs and children’s quotations, educators Jessie Handron and Christina Hamilton will share their observations of how simple, unstructured play in nature can build confidence, promote imagination and cultivate love for all living things.

Meet the Speakers

Jessie Handron has been an educator at the preschool and elementary school level for 13 years. After serving in the classroom as a teacher for 7 years, she transitioned to an instructional coaching role at the Environmental Charter School, focusing on grades K – 3. Most recently, Jessie became the founder and director of The Discovery School at Beechwood, a Reggio Emilia inspired nature preschool in partnership with the Audubon Society of Western PA.  As an educator, she believes that deeper learning occurs when we value the unique qualities of each child and nurture their sense of wonder and curiosity.

Christina Hamilton has been joyfully teaching Pre-K and early elementary students for the past 7 years. After working as an environmental educator with the National Park Service, Audubon Society and The Ecology School, she brought her experiences from the field into the classroom as a first grade teacher at the Environmental Charter School in Pittsburgh, PA. Currently, Christina is a teacher at The Discovery School at Beechwood, a Reggio Emilia inspired nature preschool in partnership with the Audubon Society of Western PA.

Meeting Schedule

5:30 – 6 p.m.            Networking and refreshments
6 – 6:30 p.m.            Presentation
6:30 – 7 p.m.            Discussion

Meetings are free to attend; however, advance registration is required. To R.S.V.P., please send us an email or sign up on our Meetup page


Discover Our Additional Resources

Biophilia: Pittsburgh meets monthly at the Center for Sustainable Landscapes classroom at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens where, over delicious small-plates and light refreshments, a discipline or behavior is identified — often by an expert guest speaker — and discussed among the participants in the interest of sharing ideas and identifying opportunities. 


Directions and Parking 

The meeting will take place at Café Phipps, and entry will be available through the main Conservatory entrance at our Welcome Center. Guest parking spaces will be available at the parking island on Schenley Drive.


Our Goals

• To welcome and inspire others with the concept and principles of biophilia
• To foster collaboration and learning between professionals from a wide variety of disciplines
• To communicate biophilic principles in action-oriented ways to a wider audience for exponential and regional impact


What Is Biophilia?

The term “biophilia,” which literally means “love of life,” was coined by social psychologist Erich Fromm and popularized by biologist E.O. Wilson, who defined it as “the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms.”

The implications of biophilia extend across a vast array of disciplines including design and engineering, nutrition, psychology, public health, education, biology and the humanities. Biophilia is expressed all over the world every day, through complex collaborations such as the design and construction of buildings and landscapes; and intimate, personal encounters including nature hikes and home gardening.

Photo © Paul g. Wiegman, Phipps staff