Jessica Rowe (Jess / Ms. Jess to the students) opened up NC Nature & Nurture in New Hill just over a year ago.

After moving to NC as a pre-teen, she relocated to Raleigh to attend college at NCSU, then to Apex to raise her family in 2006. Her husband John, and three kids, got to experience Apex when there were still tons of horse farms!

After starting college as a pre-med major, she switched to Psychology with a concentration on development & family psychology because she was bored in her bio classes and super excited for all of her psych and sociology courses. She then graduated with a BS in Developmental Psych. Her career started as a full time Nanny and she LOVED it, but she wanted to see what the corporate world had to offer. She accepted a position as an admin at a title company located in Chapel Hill and was soon promoted to a 1031 Exchange coordinator. This eventually led to an opportunity to work in a law firm in Raleigh as a Real Estate Paralegal. After a few years, Jess decided she wanted something with a bit more scheduling flexibility. She moved over to AFLAC for 3 years and LOVED it, but eventually decided to leave and commit to being a stay-at-home mom.

Jess LOVED being a full-time mom and being able to PLAY OUTSIDE all day with the kids. She loved being able to apply her passion and knowledge (developmental psychology and the study of human behavior + basic human needs) every single day and had TRULY found her happy place. In 2019, the family decided to try out running a hemp farm, and in 2020 when the pandemic hit, they ended up homeschooling their 3 kids while they farmed. This is really what started her path to where she is now with NC Nature & Nurture. Seeing her kids thrive in that environment every day was INCREDIBLE. When things returned to “normal” and the kids were back in school, she returned to a corporate desk job and could not stop thinking about how to get back into a life where she got to be OUTSIDE TEACHING and PLAYING again somehow. That was the start of the idea seed for NC Nature & Nurture and it snowballed from there.

NC Nature & Nurture is her passion project. It combines her love of psychology, human behavior & development, kids, nature, and the ability to stay active and playful. It is her absolute dream come true, and she is beyond grateful for the opportunity to be doing this every single day. Jess truly believes there is a better way to educate our future generations -especially in these early developmental stages, and she is on a mission to prove it! There is SO MUCH research to support play as the primary learning method in early childhood, as well as the health benefits of spending time outdoors. Being outside improves every aspect of physical and mental health, sparks creativity, fosters critical thinking, increases empathy, regulates emotions, boosts healthy sleep patterns… the list goes on and on. Jess believes that teaching future generations to prioritize a connection with nature, normalizing movement, play, and curiosity as they grow and learn will pay huge dividends in future societies.

NC Nature & Nurture is unique because it is all outdoors, play-based, child-centered, and geared toward establishing a lifelong love for learning AND a long-term, meaningful connection to nature. They aim to nurture the whole child and want each unique individual to be exactly who they are. Students learn about NC plants/animals/snakes/habitats/weather, learn to value and prioritize empathy and kindness, how to be a supportive and caring community – not a competitive one. They learn how to self-regulate emotions, why staying active is important to health and mood, how to help care for our planet and each other… they learn how to be exceptional and loving stewards of our plant and human race.

Jess offers this advice to the community: “Try to allow them space in each day to be bored, where nothing is planned. Our lives are busy, and our schedules are crowded, this may not feel possible at first, but it can easily become one of the best parts of your daily schedule when you start to see the rewards. Put some chalk and a bowl of water in the driveway – I’m telling you it’s MAGIC! It sounds simple to us – but for kids it’s everything. They are learning, processing, and creating. Sit outside together for a few minutes while you have a coffee or a water break in your own busy day. Take a short walk together and look for rocks or flowers…Just being outside is so restorative – for everyone. Let them get dirty. Let them spill and pour and splash and run. It is messy and can feel like so much extra work, but the reality is they are happy, tired, and proud after these types of activities.”

She continues: “Here is an easy one I used to love when mine were smaller: let them pour water into bowls and cups on top of your open dishwasher door. They can spill and play while you cook or clean up and you just add the bowls/cups to the dishwasher and shut the spill inside! Give them a pot with veggies to wash while you prepare dinner – let them be a part of it. Let them help add the soap and clothes to the washing machine. They are learning through doing. Everything you do, they want to do. They want to contribute, not be entertained. You will be gifting them confidence, creativity, autonomy, and such simple joy!”

Ms. Jess and family are SO THANKFUL for the incredible excitement and support she has received in Apex! They have summer camps as well as a traditional 1/2 day preschool and are just 10 minutes from downtown Apex. Please connect with them and share what they offer with your community! They are working on a permanent location now and hope to have a community garden in the coming years – they hope you will stop by for fresh produce when it is ready! Big things are, this is just the beginning!

Jess Rowe

NC Nature + Nurture