Meet Erin K. Kenny
Occupation: Outdoor School Teacher at Cedarsong Nature School
Location: Vashon, WA
Bogs-of-choice: Classic High Boot
Erin founded the Ancient Forest Education Foundation (AFEF) in 1996 and created Cedarsong Nature School under its umbrella in 2006. She has been designing nature programs for children for over twenty years. She believes that you cannot teach nature in a classroom and all of her programs are designed for outdoor immersion. She came up with the idea for outdoor immersion programs while she was caretaking for a wilderness hot springs in the Cascades and saw how children responded to lessons about nature while being outside. After opening up Cedarsong just over 7 years ago, she was astonished to see how quickly the children learned the natural science lessons and how engaged they were while learning outdoors. Not long after opening her school, she read Richard Louv’s book, “Last Child in the Woods” where he describes all-outdoor preschools (waldkindergatens/forest kindergartens) in Germany. In 2007, she took a leap of faith, integrating preschool into Cedarsong , which has since become hugely successful.
Q&A with Erin
What do you look for when selecting footwear?
Living in the northwest, and running a year-round outdoor nature immersion program, I inevitably look for footwear that not only keeps our feet dry but also warm. The biggest complaint for most kids in winter rain is that their feet are cold. I have not ever heard a Bogs-wearing child say this. I also expect durability and comfort since we are on our feet outdoors for up to 7 hours a day regardless of the weather or temperature.
Tell us why you love Bogs footwear?
I LOVE that my Bogs keep my feet warm no matter how cold it gets. Although the neoprene part of the boot is not waterproof and water can leak in, my feet never get cold at all, even in winter. I love the comfort of my Bogs boots; they are my footwear of choice every time I can get away with it!
How long have you been wearing Bogs?
I have been wearing my Bogs virtually year-round for 2 years.
How did you first hear about Bogs?
When I started the Forest Kindergarten, I had no idea which boots would keep the kids’ feet warm and dry in the rainy northwest winters. A couple of the kids showed up in Bogs that first year and I started receiving very positive feedback. Two years ago, our Board of Director, F.L. Dammann, contacted Bogs about a sponsorship based on these parental testimonials. Once all of our kids started wearing Bogs and the kids, parents and teachers were thrilled, we began REQUIRING all families to send their kids in Bogs; it became part of our required “uniform”.
How many pair of Bogs have you owned?
I am still wearing my first pair!
What is your favorite type of Bogs footwear?
I like the high boot style’ although I have only ever owned a pair of the short boot style. The parents and kids really like the ridgeline style; they are the most waterproof.
How do your Bogs make you feel?
Comfortable and relaxed.
How do you wear your Bogs?
My friend taught me how to roll down the top of the boots to make them slip-ons! I just like that they are so easy to get on and off. They really are like outdoor slippers, they are so comfortable.
What’s the biggest challenge you face on the job?
Managing the children’s clothing so they are warm and dry no matter what the weather. If the children are not enjoying their experience while in nature, they will have a negative association with it. It is critical to the success of our program that the children be appropriately dressed.
Can you tell us a story about a challenge you were able to overcome because of your Bogs?
The only thing that comes to mind is that the children would not be able to stomp and play freely in the mud if they were not wearing their Bogs. Our mud puddle is one of the most fun features of our school; however no one would be able to play in it in the winter without their Bogs. Now that we have experienced Bogs, there is no going back. Our entire outdoor school experience is dependent on the comfort and warmth of our Bogs!
What are some of your favorite hobbies or passions?
Playing with my 8 year old son; walking in nature; playing at the beach; swimming; going to the mountains; writing.
What’s your favorite outdoor activity?
Just being in nature: walking or lying on the ground
Are you a member of any club, organization, non-profit, etc.?
National Wildlife Federation, National Association for the Education of Young Children, Northwest Wilderness Programs
What do you love about what you do?
I LOVE being in nature; I have a core need to be outdoors. I also have always loved being around the energy of children. So, to me, the most delightful part of my job is that it contains both of these elements: I get to spend my time playing with and teaching children in nature.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
I have two: Being the only parent to a wonderful 8 year-old boy; and beginning Cedarsong Nature School.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a veterinarian first and then a marine biologist.
Where’s your favorite place to travel?
Anywhere there is an opportunity to immerse in nature, whether that is the ocean or the mountains.
What is your favorite food?
Summer: fresh fruit smoothies; Winter: homemade soup and hot crusty bread.
What is the last book you read?
“Indian New England Before the Mayflower”
What’s your dream adventure or vacation?
It would involve some outdoor activity, like white water rafting or horse-back riding in naturally beautiful locations. Sleeping in a yurt or tent or under the stars would be great.
What is your favorite thing to do?
Play in nature with my child.
What is your favorite movie?
Wizard of Oz
Coffee or Tea?
Ice Cream or Cake?
Ocean or Mountain?
Very, very tough choice! I would have to say mountains though.
What one superpower would you want to have?
The power to heal
Any additional Information you’d like to share?
I am thrilled to be a part of your Ambassador program; I am a true Bogs believer and can speak eloquently from personal experience!
For more information on Erin Kenny visit her Bogs Ambassador Page.