I am Pascale Miller and Naturelovers – connecting children to nature – is my business.
- Grad. Dip. Horticulture (Burnley, University of Melbourne, 2007)
- MPhil. Linguistics (Australian National University, 2002)
Training & Accreditation
- Sustainable Gardening Australia Accreditation (BAAG, 2008)
- Therapeutic Gardening (Holmesglen TAFE, 2008)
- Current Working with Children’s Check
- Child Protection Training (DEET 2015)
- Inquiry learning and the PYP (Primary Years Program) of IB schooling system (2014-16)
- First Aid level 2, CPR and Anaphylaxis training (2016)
- Fire equipment training (2016)
After a career as an academic researcher I craved connection to land and nature. I completed a GradDip. in Horticulture at Burnley (2007) and immersed myself in the positive energy that growing plants and being a small part of the natural cycle of life and renewal offers. I have worked in the industry as a gardener, in nursery retail (Botanical Creations and Kew Nursery) and landscape design and consultancy (Kew Nursery Garden Maintenance); learning all about plants, sustainable gardening practices, and sharing the therapeutic benefits of gardening.
In 2015 I had the fantastic opportunity to teach gardening to K-3 students as the Community Garden Facilitator at a prestigious Jewish IB school in my neighbourhood (Mount Scopus Memorial College). It was a joy to share my passion for nature and gardening with young children – by this stage I was also a mother of a young child starting Primary school, and had been encouraging her to experience nature and gardening.
I believe this is my calling – my natural passion, ability to engage young children and connect them to their surroundings, inspiring in them a sense of curiosity and wonder for nature.
I am a world traveller, first travelling to Germany as an exchange student when 16. Always studying languages, I began my career as a linguist and endangered language field researcher whilst completing a MPhil in linguistics (ANU, 2002). Travelling to remote places gave me an amazing opportunity to live and work with different cultures in Laos, Papua New Guinea, and work on endangered Aboriginal languages of Australia. I documented endangered languages such as Nyaheun, Jru’, Sapuar and Oi (Mon-Khmer languages of southern Laos), Jawoyn (Katherine NT) language materials, and travelled to the highlands of Papua New Guinea to spend time with the Benabena tribe. I immersed myself in learning languages, cultural practices, beliefs and everday experiences with the land and environment; learning how interwoven language, culture and the environment are in the human world, and firsthand how the loss of any of these has detrimental effects on our health and wellbeing.
Mission – connect with nature
I have been constantly surprised in my teaching experience and career as horticulturalist by how many families in the current generation don’t have gardens, or if they do they don’t use them. Children as a result are initially scared of getting dirty, touching worms or insects, or trying new things such as homegrown produce or edible bush foods. Science is beginning to tell us that regular experiences with nature leads to physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. In a world of depression, stress, and worry about the future we need to connect to nature more than ever!
My natural curiosity and eagerness to share my knowledge is contagious. I have the ability to make anything fun, and under my care it’s not long before your child’s eyes are opened to the wonders of nature. You will hear gasps and chirrups of glee as discoveries are made. Deep learning happens when connections to own neighbourhood parks or past experiences are shared. Connecting with nature through nature play activities involves elements of maths, literacy, second language, chemistry and physics, and I can teach you how to use nature and your outdoor environments as a classroom for learning.
Many schools may have gardens but no funds for a full time garden teacher, or somebody with skills in horticulture and teaching. Its not just schools and children who need to reconnect with nature – whole families, community groups, even aged care facilities need to access the wellbeing benefits of connecting with nature. Rather than put my energy into just one school I would like to share my skills and passion across all education sectors in Melbourne – early childhood, primary schools, daycare centres, aged care facilities, councils and community groups. I see it as an obligation, to share passion, knowledge and my learning across the broader community.
Environmental sustainability and reconciliation
I am learning about the importance of connecting to the land I live and work on, reconciling with the Kulin nations who have been disconnected from their land, cultural heritage and language. I feel it is our duty to learn from our predecessors who lived so closely with the environment, who knew its cycles, spirit and consequences of not living sustainably. I believe the way to protect cultural heritage, regenerate the habitats and ecosystems which recent generations have damaged, reinvigorate the endangered languages and cultures of Melbourne, and be part of the reconciliation process is to reconnect our generation and future generations with the land and its heritage. We are now responsible guardians of the land, and we are part of nature. We can raise environmentalists empowered to make their world a better place!