Our Mission

The mission of Out.Smart by nature is to provide students and educators a learning environment which engages children in exploration and development of the whole child through play, natural curiosity, inquiry and connection to their outdoor environment. Through this approach to learning, the stage is set for children to become life long learners who feel connected and empowered to be active parts of their community and environment.

Programming with nature fosters an understanding of who they are and leads them to value asking questions and keeping an interest in the world around them. As critical thinkers, connecting to the natural environment adds a depth that will propel their future actions into a level of sustainability and ecological literacy that will benefit not only the children but, generations to come.

Our Services

About the Founders

Tara Darling

After completing a Masters of Education degree in Curriculum Studies, Tara began her teaching career in the mid 1990’s by delivering outdoor education programs to both children and teachers in Alberta. The rugged background, numerous parks and wild spaces kindled her own natural curiosity and led to delving into the many benefits we get from learning in and from nature. Upon returning to Ontario, she took on a more traditional teaching role as a kindergarten teacher. After a few years of trying to fit the mold of a typical elementary school, where outside was for recess duty and soccer games, it became clear that she missed the natural bond and learning that happens when young children have time to explore and learn outdoors. Luckily, a fellow nature lover convinced her to stay in the public education system and bring nature into the daily life of all students. And this is where the real story begins. Twenty years later, Tara has been teaching using phenology and seasonal changes to ignite curiosity in her own students. She has recently become certified as a Forest Education Practitioner, opening her own Forest and Farm program. Whether it be kindergarten exploration, primary science or junior art, using the outdoors to teach, learn and inspire has become a way of life. Take me outside!

Doreen Waugh

Doreen was raised on Prince Edward Island, growing up on a farm and growing roots down to the earth. The opportunity to roam, explore, pretend and discover formed her core and is responsible for her connection to and concern for nature. She went on to get her Bachelor of Physical Education and Bachelor of Education degrees, the, became Program Director at an outdoor education center in the Calgary foothills. She worked with school groups, as well as people with disabilities. This set a platform for setting up a business that developed criteria for accessibility for the accommodation industry of Canada, awareness training on people with disabilities for the National Parks of Western Canada and customer service training for mature consumers that has been used by several provinces. She then became a teacher and has inspired children and her colleagues to let nature be the Big Teacher. She feels more relaxed when teaching outside and observes the relaxation on the faces and in the bodies of her students. Over the last several years she has developed numerous lessons connected to nature, incorporating curriculum expectations, fun and exploration in the areas of language, math and drama.