Entrepreneur unites passion for environment, children at nature-based care center

December 13, 2022

By Meghann Naveau

Meredith Florkey believes there is magic in helping others — especially children — experience creation and learn outside. This year, she’s building the Wildflower Child & Family Center around those passions as she works to create an accessible, new type of childcare in the Miami Valley. Meredith recently participated in the Startup Week Pitch Competition, and she shares her experience and ideas with us here. 

Launch Dayton: Your description for Wildflower Child & Family Center says its a high-quality, nature-based child care center that leads the early childhood field in staff experience and aligns learning, living and play with and for our natural world. How cool! Tell us more about how this dream was born.

Meredith: I’ve always loved learning about, in and with nature, and for the past 10 years, I’ve been a nature-based educator with programs at Learning Tree Farm and Centerville Schools. My passion is a combination of the fields of environmental and early childhood education, and to me, it feels like the best of both worlds. Learning in nature helps foster confidence and resilience in children, and in the last few years of the pandemic, we know those are abilities we all need!

As a society, we’ve also been reminded during the pandemic of the value and necessity of quality childcare. My vision with Ohio Naturally and now with Wildflower is to help level the field in making quality, nature-based childcare more broadly available, rather than being limited to families who can afford to pay higher costs.

What encouraged you to participate in the pitch competition at Startup Week?

The timing! I’d had this idea, and when I heard about the pitch competition, it gave me a timely reason to really solidify the concept and hone my elevator pitch.

Everyone was so supportive during the process, including the other entrepreneurs. We all wanted each other to succeed, and it was incredible to learn from and with people across all different sectors and types of businesses.

What’s something you’ve learned about yourself in this process?

I’m learning how to be patient and wait. There’s a tension in knowing it will happen when it’s going to happen and realizing what I have control over/can do now and what I need to simply wait on. It’s hard to wait, especially when you know there is a desire for this type of program among area families!

So, I’m trying to be really purposeful in my time. I’m pursuing a Master’s degree in Nature-Based Early Childhood Education, and I’ve been able to use my coursework as a scaffolding to build my business. Step by step, I’m pairing that education and training with my vision to make this a reality.

What’s next for Wildflower Child & Family Center?

We have some funding secured and we’re looking at property options. We’re thinking about items like what gear families would need for a nature-based program and how we can make that accessible, maybe a gear-lending library. We’re thinking about items like cleaning clothing on-site and what type of space we need for outdoor classrooms, as well as looking at what families in our community need for childcare.

We also plan on working with Preschool Promise and helping continue their great work in helping families afford preschool and childcare. We’ll be reaching out to local parks departments and green spaces to find a space that will support repeated time in nature throughout the whole year.

There is great work happening all across the region, and we’re excited to be part of it!

For more information and updates about Wildflower Child & Family Center, visit https://www.ohionaturallyeducation.com/