About Nancy

Nancy Striniste, founder and principal designer at EarlySpace, is a landscape designer, an educator, and an author. Nancy’s passion is for creating spaces that nurture and heal—both the earth and the people on it—spaces that draw people outside, connect them to nature and nourish their souls.

With a unique background in both children development and design, Nancy has been creating spaces for children for more than four decades.

Nancy is the author of Nature Play at Home: Creating Outdoor Spaces that Connect Children to the Natural World (Timber Press, 2019) 250 pages of ideas, information, and inspiration– with hundreds of photos and gorgeous illustrations.

She began her career as an early childhood educator in the 80’s. Her creativity and innovation in her own classroom led to presentations for other teachers which led to her first design projects. She’s been creating spaces for children and teaching teachers about the potential of the physical environment ever since.

Her designs have won awards from the Metropolitan Council of Governments, the Chesapeake Stormwater Network, the Maryland Recreation and Parks Association, and the Landscape Contractors Association of MD, DC and VA.

In addition to her design work and writing, for eight years Nancy taught a class called “Landscape Analysis and Design for Nature Play and Learning” at Antioch University New England in their graduate program in Nature-based Early Childhood Education.

She represented Green Schoolyards America as their National Policy Liaison and led national advocacy efforts around the Living Schoolyards Act in the US Senate until her retirement in 2023. 

Nancy is member of the International School Grounds Alliance, where she loves learning from and being inspired by the creativity of colleagues from around the world.

Nancy and EarlySpace recently relocated to Bucks County, Pennsylvania from Arlington, Virginia where she lived and worked for 20 years. During that time Nancy was a founding member of the board of NoVA Outside, an alliance of Northern Virginia environmental educators; founder of the Arlington Living Schoolyard Initiative, a pandemic era coalition that worked to bring equitable access to nature on the schoolyard to all Arlington children; and an advocate for nature play in Maryland parks and schoolyards as a member of Maryland Project Green Classroom’s Nature Play Working Group.

She brings a deep understanding of both sustainable landscape design and child development to each project. She earned her master’s degree in Sustainable Landscape Design from The George Washington University, and a BS in Education from Wheelock College. She studied design and children’s spaces at the College of Design at North Carolina State University.

In the 90’s she and her family were founding residents of Arcadia, a sustainably designed child-friendly cohousing community in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. For more than twenty years in Virginia she created a sustainable home landscape that included a certified wildlife habitat, a pond, raingarden, hundreds of native plants, and the first residential green roof in Arlington. 

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