Celebrating a Decade of Impact
Over the past 30 years, childhood has moved indoors, leaving kids disconnected from the natural world. This trend has profound implications for children’s healthy development, as science increasingly tells us that children need regular time in nature to reach their full potential.
Author Richard Louv’s 2005 book “Last Child in the Woods” brought international attention to this issue and coined the phrase “nature-deficit disorder.” His book was the inspiration for the Children & Nature Network, which he co-founded ten years ago to help reconnect children to nature so they–and natural places–can thrive.
As we look back at 10 years of work in the children and nature movement, we have much to celebrate. But we also feel increased urgency. For the first time in history, the majority of children around the globe live in cities, many without equitable access to nature. And we know that children in suburban, urban and rural areas are spending less time outdoors than ever before.
We are pleased to share highlights from 2016, our tenth anniversary year. We are grateful to the partners, funders and donors who support our work and believe as we do that nature has the power to make kids healthier, happier and smarter — and inspire new generations of stewards for our planet.
C&NN is co-founded.
Local grassroots initiatives sprout across the U.S. and the world.
C&NN assembles first volume of scientific literature on the multiple benefits of nature. Natural Leaders Network forms to train new generations of diverse, nature-smart leaders.
Nature Clubs for Families toolkit provides a model for engaging families of all backgrounds and abilities in nature-based activities.
Grassroots Survey reports 3 million kids connecting to nature through C&NN-inspired efforts. First Legacy Camp empowers youth organizers to help communities experience nature.
With C&NN support, IUCN World Conservation Congress adopts the Child’s Right to Connect with Nature and to a Healthy Environment.
Cities Connecting Children to Nature partnership with National League of Cities engages municipal leaders in creating equitable nature access.
Family Nature Clubs spread throughout China and Canada.
C&NN plans national Green Schoolyards Network. Research Library advances the evidence base with 500+ scientific articles.
2016 By The Numbers
Making The Case For Children & Nature
Advancing the Evidence Base
In 2016, we upgraded and relaunched our online Research Library, now offering access to more than 500 peer-reviewed studies that make the case for children and nature. Sign up for our Research Digest, also launched in 2016, to stay abreast of the latest scientific literature added monthly to our library collection.
Turning scientific literature into advocacy tools was a focus in 2016, as we produced a series of infographics illustrating the academic, physical activity, mental health and play quality benefits of greened schoolyards and more generally, the health and academic benefits of time spent in nature, under the rigorous advisement of our Scientific Advisory Council.
Thank you for sharing current data on why time outdoors is important and beneficial for everyone, not just children. I run my program on a tiny, hard-scrabbled budget. When writing grants and looking for data to support funding, your site is always my first stop!
With major support from the National Science Foundation, Turner Foundation, Pisces Foundation and Disney Conservation Fund.
Photo courtesy of Space to Grow: Greening Chicago's Schoolyards
Increasing Health Equity
Green Schoolyards for Healthy Communities
Learning and playing in green schoolyards can enhance children’s physical and mental health, social-emotional development and academic success. Green schoolyards also serve as outdoor gathering places that can positively impact community health, particularly in urban areas with little access to nature.
After a year of research and investigative fieldwork, our team published Building a National Movement for Green Schoolyards in Every Community, a report on the state of the green schoolyard movement with a plan for scaling green schoolyards across the U.S. Following this report, we launched Green Schoolyards for Healthy Communities, an initiative that provided five cities with in-depth technical assistance for developing nature-filled school grounds. We also planned the development of a Green Schoolyards Action Agenda that will guide the work of a national Green Schoolyards Network, currently under development.
The Benefits of Green Schoolyards
To help partners, parents and practitioners advocate for school-based outdoor learning and recreation spaces, we synthesized peer-reviewed research and produced a series of infographics highlighting the proven benefits of green schoolyards, available as downloadable fliers, posters and more.
With major support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefit Programs, and Pisces Foundation.
Connecting Children to Nature in Cities
Cities Connecting Children to Nature
Children in low-income communities often do not have equitable access to parks and greenspace. In partnership with the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education & Families, our Cities Connecting Children to Nature initiative provided training and technical assistance to 7 U.S. cities who developed citywide plans to increase equitable nature access. Cities identified strategies to increase natural areas and opportunities for children and to experience nature. Highlights of this work will be published as a municipal guide to help more cities connect children and families to the natural world.
Imagine a city known for excellent environmental education because its parks are natural classrooms. As a city, we are creating greater access to nature for all of our younger residents.
With major support from The JPB Foundation, Pisces Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Fund.
Inspiring New Outdoor Leaders
Natural Leaders Network
Our Natural Leaders initiative trains and mentors diverse young adults (ages 18-29) to create lasting change within their communities by connecting children and families to naturebased experiences. In 2016, 268 active Natural Leaders led 123 events that impacted more than 8,000 people, including kids, teens and adults. Many Natural Leaders come from communities that are underrepresented in outdoor recreation.
Our Legacy Camp training evolved in 2016 to become a regional training model designed to build local teams of Natural Leaders working to increase outdoor engagement and stewardship in their communities.
I am fortunate to work alongside a diverse group of Natural Leaders who are connecting their communities to the outdoors. They are today’s environmental leaders, serving as bridges to the natural world for people who face barriers of access and awareness.
With major support from The REI Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Walker Family Foundation of the Seattle Community Foundation, Great Outdoors Colorado, The North Face Explore Fund, Youth Outdoors Legacy Fund, and Craig McKibben & Sarah Merner.
Our Natural Leaders Network co-facilitated the launch of Fresh Tracks Leadership Expeditions in partnership with the Obama Administration. Fresh Tracks brought young leaders from Compton, CA and Arctic Village, AK together for a 16-day cultural exchange and leadership development program designed to connect them to the transformative power of the outdoors, as well as outdoor career and service pathways.
Participants also took part in a White House Roundtable on Diversity, Youth & the Outdoors.
The City of Compton with its My Brother’s Keeper team is proud to partner with Fresh Tracks on developing the leadership potential of Compton’s young adults. Every investment in our youth is an investment in a better tomorrow.
Fresh Tracks program partners included IslandWood, Sierra Club, My Brother’s Keeper, City of Compton with Mayor Aja Brown, University of Southern California — with sponsorship support from the Campion Foundation, REI, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Airlines, Zumiez and RBC.
Family Nature Clubs
Families around the world are yearning for ways to get their kids away from screens and into the great outdoors. And, recent studies show that time spent in nature can strengthen family relationships. Throughout 2016, we built large scale partnerships to provide tools and resources for Family Nature Clubs.
Our partnership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) supported a network of 232 zoos and aquariums with webinars and technical assistance and 12 U.S. zoos with grants to enhance and grow Family Nature Clubs and nature play initiatives — and we provided programming stipends to 15 growing Family Nature Clubs and grassroots nature play leaders around the country.
We also traveled to China in 2016 to train more than 230 educators to establish Family Nature Clubs in Hong Kong, Shenzen and Beijing. Our trip to China impacted more than 10,000 individuals through educational outreach and nature connection experiences—and gave a tremendous boost to China’s emerging children and nature movement.
Our Family Nature Club has changed our lives, showing us that we can be adventurous and have fun outdoors -- even with babies and small children. Thank you for showing us that canyons, trees and boulders are opportunities to have fun, develop motor skills, decrease anxiety and increase confidence.
With major support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Disney Conservation Fund.
International Children & Nature Conference
More than 700 cross-sector leaders from 19 countries gathered in St. Paul, Minnesota for our 2016 International Children & Nature Network Conference, co-hosted with the Minnesota Children & Nature Connection. This annual conference has grown from its origins as a gathering of grassroots leaders to become the world’s largest—and only—conference and summit dedicated to advancing the children and nature movement.
The conference was a very important push for me, confirming the value of convening international players and validating our work in Colombia. We must continue to grow the network by working together to expand the movement all over the planet.
With major support from Playcore, founding partners Disney Conservation Fund and the Canadian Wildlife Federation, Landscape Structures, REI, and Wilderness Inquiry
Consolidated Statements of Financial Position
Percentage of Programmatic Efficiency
Management & General
2016 was a year of significant growth for C&NN. We are continuing to expand funding for strategic initiative and making progress towards our goal of establishing a three month operating reserve to insure financial stability over the long term. A focus on organizational sustainability has allowed our work to expand in scope, capacity and impact.
More than 500 organizations and individuals support our work. We are grateful for each and every grant and gift.
The condensed consolidated financial information as of and for the years ended March 31, 2016 and 2015 has been derived from the Children & Nature Network’s 2016 consolidated financial statements, audited by Carpenter Evert & Associates. The condensed consolidated financial information should be read in conjunction with the 2016 audited consolidated financial statements and related notes. To obtain copies of our complete 2016 audited consolidated financial statements, download here.
If you would like a copy of our 990,
please contact us.
Board of Directors, Staff
2017 Board of Directors, bottom row from left: Lisa Moore, Sarah Milligan-Toffler, Fran Mainella. Back row from left: Nancy Herron, Steve Nygren, David Hartwell, Richard Louv, Stephen Pont, Amy Pertschuk, Kim Moore Bailey, Jesús Aguirre. Not pictured: Clay Johnson, Mohammed Lawal, Svante Myrick, David Orr, Sophie Sarkar, Carol Watson.