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Members Please Read: Changes to the Outdoor Hour Challenge

I highly recommend that members read this post for important information.

Sitting in my office looking out the window, I see the very first signs of the autumn coming. One thing about where I live in Central Oregon, summer is very short. It barely feels like we’re in the rhythm of summer and then the air turns crisp, the willows start to show color, the leaves rustling on the aspens have a different sound as they twirl in the afternoon breezes and the air just has that certain autumn feel to it if you pay close attention. It all rushes in too fast.

Unlike many of my readers, autumn is NOT my favorite season. I feel unsettled and restless.

With the turn of the calendar to September, I find myself thinking about what is to come as far as creating nature study ideas for the Outdoor Hour Challenge family of participants. 2020 has been a life changer for many of us and with those changes we sometimes see more clearly where we need to be on our personal journey. I’ve loved every minute of my work here on the Handbook of Nature Study, but I think change is in the air here as well. My thoughts are turning towards what comes next.

Don’t panic! The next year here on the blog will go on as usual but behind the scenes there will be a slowing down of writing new materials. Not a true “retirement”, but a slowing of the pace to allow room for exploring the next chapter in my life.

The Ultimate Naturalist Library

I feel like by the end of August 2021, I’ll have enough materials, printables, and activities in the Ultimate Naturalist Library to provide a complete nature study curriculum to most families for many, many years. Just think, I’ve covered the complete Handbook of Nature Study several times through with the Outdoor Hour Challenge.

Way back in 2008 when I started this project, I could’ve never imagined how much we would accomplish here with the Outdoor Hour Challenge. In addition to using the contents of the Handbook of Nature Study, there are additional topics that were of interest to my family and to participants like regional wildflowers, herbs, more birds, and different habitats. We worked our way through all of the seasons by closely observing many subjects together. The Outdoor Hour Challenge has helped families all around the world to develop a relationship with their own habitat and subjects.

Plan 1 Graphic for Changes to the Memberships

Changes to the Outdoor Hour Challenge

I plan on adding to the Ultimate Naturalist Library for the next year (September 2020-August 2021). After that, I will be keeping the website up and active with weekly challenges from the archives.

What do I plan on releasing during the year from September 2020 to August 2021? I’ll be adding new printables to the library and eventually two new nature-related ebooks (topics to be determined).

Starting in September 2021, I will no longer be adding anything new to the library. Members will still have complete access to the library of Outdoor Hour Challenges and ebooks, newsletters, and printables for the foreseeable future. Your memberships will still be rich and full of all sorts of nature study ideas by gleaning from the library topics of interest to your family.

New Ebooks Topics

New Ebooks – Writing and Releasing in the 2020-2021 School Year

During the next year, I have time blocked out to write two final ebooks. I have so many ideas swirling around in my head but I thought it might be a good idea to ask you readers what topics you would like to cover with the Outdoor Hour Challenge.

>>>>>>>>Email me your thoughts!

Here are a few of the ideas I have and you can add additional ideas if you have them:

  • Herbs – additional herb challenges
  • Wildflowers – one last wildflower ebook
  • Gardening for Kids ebook
  • General nature study ebook with more “how to” ideas and printables
  • Nature Journal ebook with simple ideas and examples drawn from past examples
  • A particular habitat that we haven’t already studied

Planning My Future

I’m not ready for a complete retirement from writing for the Outdoor Hour Challenge yet. It still feels relevant and valuable to keep sharing my love and passion for nature. But I want to take the time to see where the next path is going to lead me. I started off as a busy homeschooling mom of teenage boys who had a love for the outdoors. Now those boys are in their mid-twenties and I’m retired from homeschooling.  We’ll be celebrating the first wedding of one of my four children. It’s a time of change.

Thanks for taking time to read my thoughts and PLEASE email me with any questions or comments. Send me your ebook ideas and then keep on going with your family’s nature study plan as we all work through the end of 2020 and face 2021, braced for what that will bring.

My email:



12 thoughts on “Members Please Read: Changes to the Outdoor Hour Challenge

  1. Congratulations on your son’s upcoming wedding. It must be such a joy to see them at that stage after putting into them for years. I wish you all the best as you begin your transition to a partial retirement.

    1. Thank you! Life comes in chapters and this chapter is promising to be an exciting time as I watch my children tackle married life. Now we will see how all our efforts will bear fruit. Thanks for the best wishes!

  2. Good Morning! I just came in to start my first day with students at a new Kindergarten (The school has not had K in many years) at a new school, Lincoln City Christian School. It will be easier to use the materials that I enjoy here. In true Oregon style we are nestled on the west side of a large lake with views of the ocean out the windows. (Horizon and ocean, no waves) We are encouraged to spend the afternoons out walking; it will be a very different terrain than the valley of Neskowin, and so much new to explore.

    The lack I see in help is for a Gardening for Kids book. We have worked with the amazing Food Roots folks and the local School Gardeners (homeschool mom that got her masters – so amazing). I have 8 empty beds save for thick weeds. I’m going to put in cardboard and more dirt. It would be great to have a zone / simple things to plant / season type resource for teachers. What to plant, how long to expect, what to do to care for the bed while the plants take root? Do we start inside or outside? What is a good go-to for the time frame of school which is mostly winter and spring? Etc.

    Thanks for the amazing ride, I think I joined in 2009. It changed my life, and the life of my boys. It changed how I focused ‘going outside’. Joy to you! Someday, we actually need to meet. 🙂


    1. Great ideas Angie, I will noodle it around and see what I can come up with. Would you be willing to look at an outline if I get it put together?

      Also, I read on your Instagram account about how it makes your mama heart happy to have grown boys who still share their love of the outdoors with you. That is the highest compliment I could ever receive in this “job” of mine. I love knowing that in some small way I have helped you create that experience in your family. Love you guys!

  3. I just looked it up, it was February 6, 2010!

    1. I have loved having you along for the ride all these years.

  4. Thanks, Barb for all of your labors these many years!! Your newsletters influenced how I approached nature study with my daughter (now 14). I subscribed to the Ultimate Membership this year because with all the Covid craziness, I have the pleasure of doing preschool/K5 with my grandson. I can’t wait to share the wonders of nature study with him. I hope you continue to share your personal nature experiences, I have enjoyed reading them.

    I would love to see a general nature study ebook that includes nature tips and some info about best clothing/shoes etc. I also think the gardening with kids would be helpful.

    Best wishes to you as you transition into the next phase of life!!!

    1. Thanks so much Karla. It makes me happy that you are able to share nature study with your grandson! What a gift to him!

      Thanks for the ebook suggestions too. I am getting inspired today reading everyone’s ideas for future ebooks and the next year. I appreciate you taking time to comment.

  5. Congrats on your son’s upcoming wedding, Barbara. Your ideas for the coming year sound wonderful. Change is constant, and it’s good to meet it with an open and positive heart. Your work here has made many families happy and knowledgeable. It’s much appreciated!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words.

  6. I am happy for you at the new changes in your life. How fun to watch your family grow!
    I have a somewhat odd idea. My family was recently evacuated from a wildfire here in California. We spent almost a month waiting for it to be safe to come home. We were among the fortunate ones whose home was spared. My heart goes out to those who lost their homes.
    As we have been settling back in, we have noticed many changes due to wildfire. For instance, we live near a river. On one of our walks along the river we noticed many crawfish bodies alongside the river. We also noticed the absence of fish. When we looked online to see if we could find a reason for this, we discovered that ash clogs the gills of aquatic creatures, and they cannot breathe. It would be interesting to study how nature recovers after a disaster. Where do the new fish come from? What effect does a natural disaster have on the environment. Our fire was caused by lightning. What can we do to help nature recover?
    Anyway that was just something that had been on my mind lately. It made me think of nature’s recovery after many different kinds of disasters.
    I hope your family stays healthy and happy. Thank you for all of your wonderful materials.

    1. Did you know my husband is a retired wildland firefighter (CAL Fire)? We have spent much time sitting by waiting as fire ravages the landscape, wondering what the results will be, living through the experiences of my husband. I love your ideas and it would take a lot of research and investigating to create a resource that does the subject justice. But, I will put it in my journal as something to think about. Thanks for your comment and ideas. I am glad you were able to return home. 🙂

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