Client of the Quarter

Riverbend Environmental Education Center

Riverbend Environmental Education Center is a non-profit organization located on a 30-acre preserve in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania. Their purpose is to foster an awareness, appreciation, and understanding of the total environment through educational programming. By growing both the love of nature and environmental literacy, they aim to inspire action that contributes to a healthier planet for all.

Riverbend, founded in 1974, is situated on a scenic 30 acre property made up of diverse natural habitats. Environmental education programs began less than a year later in September 1975, and Riverbend’s first summer camp started in 1982.

The preserve, with pond, stream, meadow and woodland habitats supports many of Riverbend’s outdoor education programs. An extensive native woodland restoration project began in 2008 and continues each year. In the past decade more than 5,000 native trees have been planted on Riverbend’s preserve with volunteer help. Riverbend has a variety of amenities to support learning and fun including the Snider Barn, an aquaponics greenhouse, a farmhouse, the Nick and Dee Adams Pavilion, a stone story circle with a fire pit and the Charles Lieberman Outdoor Classroom.

Educational programs take place both on-site at the Spring Mill Road preserve and off-site at other nature preserves, schools and school yards, and at organization partner sites. On-site activities include school field trips, year-round and exploration camps, professional development for educators, public and community outreach, and family-focused special events. More than 60% of school programs take place off site and nearly 50% serve children living in low-income communities. Overall, Riverbend provides nature-based STEM and inquiry-based environmental science learning to more than 24,000 individuals annually.

People Need Nature Nature is the source of our food, water and the air we breathe. A healthy environment directly contributes to human survival and general well-being. It is only with a solid understanding of how our natural systems work, that people can work together to protect nature and act as earth’s champions. Direct experiences with nature provide relevant learning that equips students with critical thinking, creative approaches, and problem-solving skills.

Riverbend works to develop environmental literacy using tested education tools grounded in science. They believe that this is essential for living in and care for our natural world. For all of us, appreciating nature and our place in it is critical for ensuring healthy communities and protecting the very systems that sustain us. It is imperative to equip learners of all ages with the habits of mind needed to shape and adapt to the world in which we all live. Riverbend delivers STEM programs that use nature as the foundation of learning.

Through a nature-based curriculum, students are three times more likely to find the material interesting and to create lasting memories. Each year, Riverbend strives to take their inquiry-based science programs to the next level, transforming the way teachers teach, and students learn through environmental education. An ever-growing body of research demonstrates what many of us have known all along – nature is good for kids and people of all ages!

Environmental education is a critical resource that effectively engages students. Riverbend hopes that students will be motivated through their experiences and will go on to create connections between school or camp learning to the community they live in and to the world beyond. The understandings and learning students take away will help them to be the prepared leaders we need for a healthy environment in the future.

For more information about Riverbend, please refer to to learn about their mission and programs. Visitors are welcome to enjoy Riverbend’s preserve and trails which are open to the public from dusk until dawn seven days a week 365 days a year.