Chatham News

Rachel Carson Institute hosts first children’s health forum on Oct. 22

By: Amanda Ritchie, Senior Public Relations Specialist

September 26, 2011

PITTSBURGH (September 26, 2011) … Young children are susceptible to environmental contaminants, and so it is critical that their early learning surroundings are safe, educational and fun. To explore ways to develop environmentally sound and economical learning environments, the Rachel Carson Institute will convene the Rachel Carson Forum: Creating Healthy Places to Live, Learn and Play on Saturday, October 22 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the University’s Eddy Theatre.

This day-long conference and workshop for providers of early learning for young children will feature keynote speakers Phil Boise, author of Go Green Rating Scale (, and Jane Houlihan, senior vice president for research at The Environmental Working Group( Act48 and PQAS credits (6 ceu) are available for educators. More information is available at, by calling 412-365-2702 or emailing Online registration is available at

“As we learn more about how contaminants such as chemicals, toxins and pesticides can impact a young child’s mental development, it is important that we as their educators, parents and guardians develop safe learning environments,” explained Patricia M. DeMarco, Ph.D., director of the Rachel Carson Institute. “This conference will bring together educators, caregivers and others to explore how we can create more sustainable environments to protect children’s future learning.

The Conference agenda includes:
Keynote Speakers:
Phil Boise, author of Go Green Rating Scale for Early Childhood Settings
Jane Houlihan- Sr. V.P. For Research, Environmental Working Group

Panel Discussion: Healthy Places for Young Children: Achieving Environmental Excellence within Multiple Quality Initiatives
Michelle Figler, Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children – Moderator
Megan Showalter, ERS
Sherry Krallman, Keystone Stars
Sharon Arabia, Pennsylvania Office of Child Development
Samantha Balbier-Consultant, Pennsylvania ECE Green Initiative

Session Tracks
Track 1: Administrative Policies for Green Operations

Phyllis Barber, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield
Judith Focareta, Magee-Womens Hospital
Gary Moshier, Moshier Studio Architects
Stephanie Phillis, Tender Care Learning Center

Track 2: Avoiding Toxic Exposures Indoors and Outdoors
Margaret Zak, Sense of Place Learning
Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, Women for a Healthy Environment
Nancy Gift, Ph.D., Chatham University
Barbara Biglan, Ph.D., Chatham University

Track 3: Cost Efficiency of Green Practices
Phil Boise, GreenCare for Children
Carol Stroebel, Children’s Environmental Health Network

Track 4: Curriculum and Best Practices in Teaching Young Children about the Environment
Paula Purnell, Sense of Place Learning
Patricia O’Neill, Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania
Todd Garcia Bish, Lutherlyn Environmental Center
Geri Baker, Carnegie Science Center

Plenary Session: Recommendations and Best Practices/Report out session

Conference presenters include the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University; Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children; Sense of Place Learning; and Women for a Healthy Environment. Conference sponsor is Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

About the Rachel Carson Institute
The Rachel Carson Institute (RCI) was established at Chatham College in 1989 to continue the legacy of Chatham’s most famous alumna, Rachel Carson, Class of ’29, author, scientist and founder of the modern environmental movement. Part of the University’s School of Sustainability and the Environment, RCI focuses on understanding and explaining the consequences of human actions on the global web of life. RCI will bring together leaders, scientists and scholars in Rachel Carson’s name to address sustainability in the 21st century and offer creative directions and solutions.