Nature's Turn: Judy Isacoff - Environmental Educator & Writer

Nature's Turn: Judy Isacoff - Environmental Education & Arts in Education Programs

About Judy Isacoff

As a child, I would hum, spellbound, while gazing up at a secret point of pure white starlight piercing the softly radiant blue sky of late afternoon. My gaze left behind rundown frame houses and vacant lots of my bleak neighborhood in inner city Newark, New Jersey. There, I gathered weeds from the earth-filled cracks in the sidewalk for make-believe banquets with playmates.

My roots in nature flourished at Bennington College in Vermont, in the foothills of the Green Mountains. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree and taught art - and through art, self-discovery and self-reliance - in community centers in New York City. After two years, I departed the city to pursue a rite of passage quest as a painter and writer in wilderness, in the manner of Native Americans and Thoreau. I soon learned that the most brilliant evening stars - that are at other times morning stars - are planets Jupiter and Venus and that Venus is known as the Evening Star or Morning Star. Most of those urban weeds I pretended were food are, in fact, edible.

After seven years I returned to teaching with a rich background in natural history, the visual and language arts and psychology. Two decades later, I earned a Master of Arts degree in environmental education and creative writing from Antioch University's Individualized Master of Arts (IMA) program.

Nature's Turn clients have included school districts and libraries in NY, NJ, CT & MA, private and parochial schools, BOCES, Bard College, The Nature Conservancy, Institute for Ecosystems Studies, Capital Region Center for Arts In Education, Bank Street College, Berkshire Community College, Canyon Ranch, Berkshire Botanical Garden, garden clubs, camps, regional publications and individuals.

I am stunned, Judy, that you keep coming up with these informative installments of your column, "Eyes to the Sky", to enlighten readers of The Broadsheet and The Broadsheet Daily. The diagrams and beautiful photos are an excellent accompaniment. Your love of your subject leaps off the page and encourages readers to head outdoors. Very heady starry stuff! My son wrote in his college applications that he tries to view the stars whenever he can, and I know this would not have become an interest of his if I had not shared your "Eyes to the Sky" columns with him.
Caroline Press, Managing Editor, The Broadsheet Daily

Judy's reverence for and sensitivity to nature and her commitment to environmental conservation is always at the forefront. Her pleasant and cheerful personal style and positive outlook is an inspiration to me, and make her a pleasure to work with.
Dorthe Hviid, Director of Horticulture, Berkshire Botanical Garden

It has been a great pleasure to work with you on all of these arts and science education programs over the past ten years. Thank you for becoming a key factor in the success of the ongoing arts-in-education partnership with Bard College and the Red Hook Schools.
Ann Gabler, Program Developer, Bard College

On behalf of the entire planning committee, I want to thank you for your excellent indoor and outdoor presentations at the "Out of the Classroom and into the Garden" symposium...
Education Director, American Horicultural Society

Teacher Workshop: It truly was my honor, privilege and delight to work with you Ulster County BOCES. You and your workshop on Environmental Education were superb. The teachers are still expressing their satisfaction... I, personally, was renewed, refreshed and nourished by the time with you. You radiate a peace, a quiet joy and wholeness that, I feel, comes from your connectedness to our natural world and knowledge of your inner being... The activities you shared were wonderful; showing that so much can be done with a few, simple materials - a profound lesson for us all. I have signed up for your workshop at the upcoming NSTA conference.
NYS Elementary Science Mentor, BOCES Science Specialist

School Program: My one regret about your visit with us is that I was unable to be an active participant! Feedback from the staff was most positive and the teachers were impressed with the way you held the children's attention and were able to switch activities as needed to keep them involved... It was a good start for some of our teachers in seeing there are ways to teach (and learn) without a text and outside the classroom. I'm sure the experience affected the thinking of everyone to varying degrees.
Principal, Hudson City School District