Kendal Early Learning Center’s “Nature Club”

Kendal Early Learning Center’s “Nature Club” provides opportunities to explore the great outdoors. There is no cost to take part in the programs and families from surrounding communities are welcome to join.

Known for its creative curriculum, Director, Jeni Hover, and the preschool teachers continually look for new opportunities for the children to learn and grow.

Teaching Biology at an Early Age

Kendal Early Learning Center (KELC) teacher, Mary Balduff, combined work and furthering her education, with the creation and implementation of a program to connect children and their families to nature experiences.

She was in the Advanced Inquiry Program through Miami University and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology, with certification to teach.

In pursuing her master’s degree, through Miami University and Project Dragonfly, Mary envisioned a program that would focus on the natural world and the opportunities it provides for young children. “Nature Club” was born and became her master’s degree project.

Focus on Exploring Nature with Family and Friends

Mary explains, “Children are constantly surrounded by manufactured items, so we focus on areas with natural aspects and learning opportunities.  An inquiry-based learning style is utilized, where club members are presented with a topic and allowed to follow and explore it, however they see fit.  KELC students, parents, siblings, friends and members of the larger community are welcome to join us as we explore the natural areas nearby.”

The “Nature Club” usually meets twice a month, with the exception, of the holiday months of November/December.

Past excursions have been to Hershey Children’s Garden, at Holden Forests and Garden; the Oberlin Reservoir; and Mill Hollow Vermilion River Reservation.

Mary also shared that there is a “Little Free Library” on the Kendal campus, donated by the Stocker Foundation, and available to all local children. To learn more about “Nature Club” visit the website at or contact Mary Balduff at

The Kendal Early Learning Center (KELC) provides educational childcare for the preschool children of Kendal at Oberlin staff and children in surrounding communities.  The Learning Center is a five-star rated by Ohio’s “Step Up to Quality” Program.  It is located inside the Kendal at Oberlin retirement community in Oberlin.