Registration for 2023/24 school year begins Feb. 1st, 2023

Would you like to take a tour or schedule a day to participate with your child to see if Nature Preschool is a good fit for your family?

Email us at:

Jessica Burkett, Educational Director:


How can I help???

Purchase some flower bulbs! 

We have partnered up with Flower Power Fundraising to offer seasonally, a chance to beautify your landscaping, home, or give a gift of flowers to someone special!
They have a wonderful variety to choose from at good prices.
By ordering from Flower Power fundraiser, you are supporting our nature immersion programming scholarship fund. Our scholarship fund offers tuition assistance to families who want to enroll their child in our Wild Willow Nature Preschool or our Farm & Forest School and need financial assistance. Giving Gardens of Indiana keeps 50% of proceeds. 100% of those proceeds go towards our scholarship fund, and you get a beautiful flower bed. It’s a win-win!
When you order the bulbs get sent directly to your home. Making it easy to get your beautiful flowers!
To order or send the link to someone who would love to order some fall bulbs, go to:
We appreciate your support and please share!! Our goal is $2000 for this season!

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 & play based early childhood program, where the natural environment offers countless learning opportunities. Our program supports the whole child through high-quality learning, inspired by children’s human educative instincts to learn, be curious, be playful and share their learning socially.

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 and play-based approach supports them on Kindergarten readiness with age-appropriate educational experiences through hands-on, playful 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 playful curiosity and intentional experiences in nature.
  • Bringing focus back to the whole health of the child  through nature & play based education.
  • Allowing children to lead the way with age appropriate learning experiences that support independent & confident children.


“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 programs framework  incorporates academics, life skills, fine & gross motor skills, child-led curiosity, playfulness, creativity, problem solving, socialization and endless possibilities!  A child learns best through play and we have developed a program to allow them to do this through the freedom to follow their curiosity and human “educative” instincts. Getting back to our roots and learning with nature as our classroom  and her endless “loose parts” will allow for deeper comprehension and problem solving. We want your child to be more than just academically prepared for life and school. 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.


3 Day: AM Monday, Wednesday, Friday  (will open afternoon once we hit minimum of 8 students)

9:00 am-12:00 pm (afternoons when opened 1-4pm)

Tuition: $150.00 Registration fee (per child),  $85.00 Weekly,    $3,060.00 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:                                     15% off for 3 day 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 (mini school room/shed) that has 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?


Megan Romary-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

Jennifer Juergens-Preschool Assistant Teaching Mentor

Jennifer lives in Roanoke, IN with her husband and three daughters. She has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from St. Mary's College and a Master's Degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Indianapolis. She has worked at various skilled nursing facilities as an OT, and during the school year, she volunteers at her church in the children's department. For the past two years she has been a full time stay at home mom and has thoroughly enjoyed providing as many opportunities as possible for her kids to be outside. Her family can often be found around their town playing at the creek, biking, sledding, visiting the farmers market, participating in sports, going to tiny libraries, and meeting up with friends at the park. She also enjoys camping, walking, swimming, gardening, and baking. Her love for the outdoors developed as a child with family and friends. Jennifer's family took several camping trips throughout the U.S., went canoeing and hiking often, and made apple cider each year with their antique press. On evenings and weekends, you could always find her and the neighbor kids playing outside for hours. These experiences and traditions certainly made for a fulfilling childhood and instilled a lifelong love for nature.  Jennifer wants to encourage parents and caregivers to get their kids outside, especially in those younger years, because of the positive impact nature can have on their development and well-being. She wants to join you and your kids on this outdoor journey! 

Shannon Clark-Preschool Assistant Teaching Mentor

Shannon Clark was born and raised in Whitley County where she lives with her dog and four cats and husband. Shannon was educated as a nurse and feels most fulfilled when helping other people. She currently serves on the board of Camp Whitley, works with home bound individuals and runs her own cleaning business! She has three grown children but loves little kids, being outside and being a lifelong learner.