Morgan Street: New after school programming connects the arts and outdoor learning at Woolman

Youth get the opportunity to participate in pottery projects among others during events at Woolman Arts for the upcoming Elemental After School program. Registration begins in January.
Photo: Courtesy Photo

What’s brewing over at Woolman? Once a private boarding school, the organization is now an educational nonprofit open to the public that offers enrichment opportunities, retreats and camps. The rural campus of forest, trails, streams, meadows, ponds, orchards, and an organic farm provides a perfect backdrop for sparking creativity and supporting inquiry, surrounded by the physically, mentally, and spiritually healing power of nature.

Woolman Arts emerged this year with the belief that being creative is a defining feature of being human. A multifaceted and evolving program, Woolman Arts serves to support and nurture creative exploration and expression among artists of all ages and skill levels. This past fall participants have enjoyed program adult and youth workshops like creative writing, ceramics, yoga and basketry.

With the support of a grant from the California Arts Council, Woolman is proud to expand its arts programming with a comprehensive and exciting new after-school program and spring break day camp: Elemental After School & Elemental Day Camp!

Activities are rooted in the elements Earth, Air, Fire and Water, with a focus on experiential learning, collaborative building, skills development, and connection to the land and its history. Children ages 6-12 participate in four 90-minute workshops each month. Programming runs throughout the school year and will include a spring break day camp, comprising five full days of arts programming covering similar material and an immersive camper experience.

Elemental After School is one of the many programs being offered at the historic Nevada County school site.
Photo: Courtesy Photo

Elemental After School will balance collaborative and individual creative activities aimed at fostering a safe, engaging, and inclusive environment for growth, exploration and play. In essence, this program seeks to expose participants to local landscapes, cultures, ecosystems, and artists through a creative lens, encouraging understanding of how these elements connect and support each other.

Examples of collaborative activities are building a cob oven and solar oven, creating murals, storytelling, game development, cooking, cultivating a garden, fort making, mapmaking, and zine creation. Individual activities may include ceramics, cyanotypes, sewing, natural dyes, papermaking, kite flying, beeswax sculpting, quilting, weaving, and much more! Every month will offer different activities, participants who attend multiple months can build upon skills they have learned and practice leadership skills with the group.

Programming will be enhanced by Guest Teaching Creatives, contracted for at least one session per month and twice during spring break camp. Creatives will have the opportunity to share their skills with youth, and youth will have the opportunity to learn from professionals and individuals that are passionate about their craft. “We hope to get a variety of people coming as guest educators, from artists to designers, gardeners to storytellers, beekeepers to herbalists, chefs to builders and beyond. The definition of a creative person is very broad!” says Programs Director Morgan Street, “It can be a wonderful experience as a creative person to engage with the younger generation, to share your skills and ideas and be able to see how kids engage with them in a new way. It can also be really amazing for kids to see what being creative as an adult can look like, both as a profession and as a passionate hobby. We hope that this program can be a platform for inter-generational creative learning and support, something we really value here at Woolman.” No teaching experience is required for guests in this paid position, as they will have the opportunity to work with program leaders to develop activities based on their practices and have guidance throughout the session.

The program also supports hiring Art Educator Assistants, people aged 18-24 who identify as artists and are looking to expand their creative skills as well as develop skills as educators. This role offers an opportunity to practice artmaking and teaching, grow leadership skills, and gain valuable experience developing workshops, planning lessons, and managing groups of younger children through creative processes.

In an effort to connect families with quality after school programming regardless of financial need, Woolman is thrilled to offer robust scholarship options for this program with the generous support from the CAC as well as being an educational vendor for several local charters.

Nevada County has an amazing creative community and a rich natural landscape. Elemental After School strives to engage a wide range of local community members in supporting creative exploration, collaborative engagement and hands-on learning.

Enrollment is open for Elemental After School in January, register online at

Enrollment is open for Elemental After School in January, register online at
Photo: Courtesy photo

Individuals interested in being Guest Teaching Creatives or Art Educator Assistants are encouraged to contact Programs Director Morgan Street at


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