Classes Begin August 15th, 2022

How can I help???

If you would like to support our Wild Willow Nature Preschool, you can do so by donating to our Scholarship Fund. 


You can purchase supplies  from our Amazon Wish List!


Volunteering to be a teachers aid! You can email us for more details.          

We are so grateful for your generosity!!!

Wild Willow Nature Preschool

Program Description:

Wild Willow Nature Preschool, is a nature & place based early childhood program, where the natural environment offers countless learning opportunities. Our program supports the whole child through high-quality learning, inspired by Montessori and Reggio Emilia pedagogies. Our program meets the developmental needs of preschoolers while at the same time inspiring them to love learning and appreciate the world around them.

Our unique nature-based approach supports them on Kindergarten readiness with age-appropriate educational experiences through hands-on learning in nature. This experiential learning process nurtures strong cognitive growth, social & emotional skill building, physical health & abilities as well as, inspires awe & wonder.

Our Vision:

  • Fostering the love of learning through intentional experiences in nature.
  • Bringing physical, mental & spiritual health back to children through nature based education.
  • Allowing children to lead the way with age appropriate learning experiences that support independent & confident children.

To learn more about our program:
Preschool Informational Meetings:
Register Here
Online Zoom Meeting:
Thursday, May 26th at 6pm (link will be emailed to you)
In Person @ Peabody Public Library (Columbia City, IN) :
Saturday, May 28th 2pm
Auditorium 1

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play IS serious learning.”

-Mr. Rogers

Why Outside?

The outdoors provides a unique setting to foster the skills listed below that can’t be easily replicated in a classroom.

  • Enhancing brain development
  • Improving academic performance
  • Enhancing communication
  • Promoting physical activity & motor development
  • Promoting socio-emotional development
  • Promoting problem-solving skills
  • Promoting executive functioning
  • Promoting emotional resilience & self-regulation
  • Providing mental health benefits
  • Promotes self-esteem & confidence
  • Reducing symptoms of ADHD
  • Providing therapeutic benefits to children with autism

-Information sourced from Natural Start Alliance

“Anything you can teach in an indoor classroom can be taught outdoors, often in ways that are more enjoyable for children.”

-Cathy James

Why Play-Based?

We want your child to play with a purpose. Our program is structured to incorporate academics, life skills, and socialization.  We focus on the development of fine and gross motor skills. A child learns best through play and we have developed a program to allow them to do this without technology. Getting back to our roots and learning with nature as our classroom will allow for deeper comprehension and problem solving. We want your child to be more than just academically prepared for kindergarten. We want them to thrive.

Program Days/Times & Tuition:

This is a school year long program. Beginning Mid-August through end of May. We follow our local school schedule (Whitley County, IN) including holidays.

2 Day: Tuesdays & Thursdays

8:30am-11:30am or 1:00pm-4:00pm

Tuition: $150.00 Registration fee (per child),    $60.00 Weekly,    $2,052.00 Yearly tuition if paid in full (this is price with 5% discount)

3 Day: Monday, Wednesday, Friday

8:30am-11:30am or 1:00pm-4:00pm

Tuition: $150.00 Registration fee (per child),  $80.00 Weekly,    $2,736.00 Yearly tuition if paid in full (this is price with 5% discount)

5 Day: Monday-Friday

8:30am-11:30am or 1:00pm-4:00pm

Tuition: $150.00 Registration fee (per child),  $115.00 Weekly,     $3,933.00 Yearly Tuition if paid in full (this is price with 5% discount)

5% discount for tuition paid in full for the year.

Sibling discount: $75 off per child for full year tuition

Scholarship:                $75 off for 2 day tuition,                        $100 off for 3 day tuition,                         $250 off for 5 day full year tuition                         -email tuition support letter to:


The Diedrich Family Scholarship

50% off tuition for 2 students a year. 


This scholarship is supported by The Diedrich Family of Columbia City.

The Diedrich family will pick 2 students each semester to pay 50% tuition for.

To apply email your scholarship request letter to:


Deadline July 1st.

Thank you to the Diedrich Family for their generosity and support of children in nature!

“Play is the highest form of research.”

-Albert Einstein

Frequently asked questions:

-Is your program 100% outside?

Short answer yes. We do have shelter (pavilion) that has roll down sides and a heat source for really chilly days, rain & lightening. In the event of severe weather parents will be notified to to pick children up or we will have a delay or cancelation.

-What should my child wear?

You can find all of the gear lists in the Parent section of our website. Be prepared for muddy, wet fun! So please make sure to dress them appropriately. Mostly water proof!

-Can my child be almost 3 by the time preschool starts?

Your child must be 3yrs old by August 1st in order to sign up. 

-Does my child need to be potty trained?

Your child must be fully potty trained and not wearing diapers or pull ups to attend our  preschool programs.

-Will there be poison ivy, ticks, mosquitoes and other risks?

Again, short answer, yes. But we try to mitigate this by teaching identification practices, encouraging good clothing choices, & having herbal insect spray. Clothing choices are of the utmost importance!

-Do you provide snacks?

We ask every parent to pack their own snacks. This helps with food allergies and to cut down on transferring germs. We on occasion do some cooking over the fire or other activities that involve food. We will make sure to have list of every child’s allergies on hand to make sure we are not providing them with something they could be allergic too.

-What if me & my child/ren decides that this program isn’t a good fit for our family?

This is a year long commitment. Please take great consideration into choosing our program. We do not refund deposits + a month of additional tuition. From that we will prorate the time your child/ren have been in the program to determine the refund.

-What are your class sizes?

We keep our class sizes small to ensure enough care and attention are given to all students. We max our class size at 15 students per class. We will have 3-4 teacher/volunteers per class.

-I have more questions, how do I contact you?


phone: 260-609-6784

Preschool Director, Lead Preschool Teaching Mentor

Megan Romary was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She currently lives in Columbia city with her fiancé. She has a degree in early childhood education from Ball State University and a master's certificate in Nature-Based Early childhood education from Antioch University. She, fortunately, grew up in front of the St. Mary's river on three acres, with parents who loved nature, and with that much property, there was no shortage of yard work. From the time she was little, her dad loved to show her deer tracks, take hikes back to the river, four-wheeler rides, tractor rides in leaves, etc., with her two little brothers. Her mom is an ever-learning Gardner and planner of many tent camping vacations, state park hikes, etc. It wasn't until she was older that she realized how fortunate she was to have two parents who both valued the outdoors.She had a very typical childhood growing up, going to a public school, watching probably too much TV and computer games, but having an outdoor space and experiences of play and imagination with a couple of neighbor kids was, she now realizes was invaluable and much of the reason she became a teacher and then became obsessed with teaching outdoors. It was grounding and she had a place to go when angry, confused, happy, thoughtful, bored, etc. As farm and forest families you see the benefits and she just wants to encourage your impact on your children by valuing nature and taking part in this community. Favorite color: Purple Favorite animal: Butterflies and cats and favorite thing about nature: Trees and their ability to heal and grow through adversity! Feel free to let her know your favorites and FYI, she also love dogs but if she had to pick one.....sorry! lol

Amara Gilraine, Co-Preschool Teaching Mentor

Amara Gilraine was homeschooled/unschooled from preschool until high school graduation. Her mother encouraged nature-based and child-led learning. Amara has a deep love of learning new things and has many hobbies, including guitar, backpacking/hiking, foraging, rock climbing, weightlifting, bushcrafting, and anything that has to do with exploring nature. Amara is a mother and deeply believes in allowing children to express themselves through movement and learn through exploration. She believes that curiosity is the best teacher, and loves to encourage curiosity in children. Encouraging a lifelong love of learning is her goal when working with students!