DEAR CHILDREN AND NATURE CHAMPIONS,
2017 was an exciting year for the Children & Nature Network. We were thrilled to celebrate progress and share ideas with nearly 900 leaders at our international conference — and work with city officials, families, young leaders, educators, health professionals, researchers, grassroots organizers and practitioners to connect more children to the proven benefits of nature.
But while progress is being made, time spent outdoors by children continues to decline at an alarming rate. Today’s kids spend as much as 90% of their time inside, disconnected from the natural world. This quiet crisis led our board and staff to fully recommit to the vision of our founders:
A world in which all children learn, play and grow
with nature in their everyday lives.
We also updated our mission statement to reflect our belief that in order to achieve this vision, we need to focus on equity, prioritizing solutions for children with the least access. Today, our mission is to lead a global movement to increase equitable access to nature so that children—and natural places—can thrive. To do this, we build the capacity of leaders and communities by sharing evidence-based resources, scaling innovative solutions and driving policy change.
Our updated mission is supported by a new strategic agenda, focused on the “big levers” needed to shift an indoor society back toward the natural world. We don’t do this work alone; there are many individuals and organizations doing incredible work to reconnect children, families and communities to nature. And in 2017, we launched a membership program to better connect and support these leaders.
More than 500 individuals and 100 organizations signed on as Charter Members of the network, creating a powerful constituency for children and nature. In addition to better access to peers and valuable resources, members will help shape the future of our movement. If you haven’t already, we hope you’ll join today, adding your voice to a growing chorus of changemakers.
We hope you enjoy this report of our shared accomplishments. We are grateful for your partnership as we work to secure a healthy future for our children—and our planet.
2017 By The Numbers
Making The Case For Children & Nature
Collaboration to Advance the Cause
How do we share evidence-based resources and make the strongest case for nature connection? Through partnerships with great, like-minded organizations.
In 2017, we collaborated with the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) to connect their EEPro environmental ed resources with our research library. Now NAAEE’s members can access C&NN’s collection of 650+ research summaries, and C&NN library users can explore NAAEE’s curation of top environmental education journals — providing a broader base of knowledge for all.
In partnership with the University of Minnesota, University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana and NAAEE, we assembled an expert network of researchers, practitioners and funders. The Science of Nature-Based Learning Collaborative Research Network made advances in setting a research agenda, publishing collaborative work in key journals, and launching a research project on the impact of nature-based instruction on science learning outcomes.
Your research digest is invaluable for those of us working in the field. Thank you for sharing new research results linking children, families and communities to nature.
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: A bold goal
What will it take to ensure that all US school children have access to at least one green schoolyard by 2050? C&NN is working with education and public health partners to achieve this goal. With just a small percentage of schools offering green spaces for learning and recreation, it’s a tall order. Successful strategies in 2017 included:
Engaging New Partners
In partnership with the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families, C&NN convened a first-of-its-kind roundtable of national experts from 20 organizations to explore green schoolyards as a way to advance health equity policy. Roundtable participants helped develop our forthcoming national green schoolyards agenda, including next steps for achieving our goal.
We published a Green Schoolyards Evaluation Framework and additional tools in the “Measuring Impact” section of our new Green Schoolyards Resource Hub. Use of these tools will drive evidence-based decisions as green schoolyards become a public health strategy across the US.
Creating New Resources
With input from national partners, C&NN launched a robust Green Schoolyards Resource Hub, curating 140+ resources designed to help communities green their school grounds. We placed special emphasis on policies, partnerships and funding for city- and school district-wide green schoolyard programs.
Working with Cities
Green schoolyards can provide nature experiences and high-quality green spaces that deliver community health and educational benefits for cities. In 2017, we provided technical support to the cities of Austin, TX; Grand Rapids, MI; Providence, RI; Madison, WI; and San Francisco, CA as they worked to develop city- and school-district wide green schoolyard programs.
Engaging Health Influencers
Pediatricians and healthcare professionals are increasingly interested in nature’s impact on children’s healthy development — and we recognize the influence medical professionals have on families. To reach pediatricians, C&NN exhibited at the annual American Academy of Pediatrics conference in Chicago, which brought together more than 10,000 pediatricians. By invitation, C&NN was the only organization to champion the health benefits of time spent in nature. While at the conference, C&NN presented during a poster session on obesity and to the Council on School Health. As a result, the Council is exploring ways to work with us to advance green schoolyards as a health solution for children.
With major funding support from: W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Pisces Foundation, Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Fund, Dr. Stephen Pont and David Hartwell.
Cities Connecting Children to Nature
Cities Connecting Children to Nature
The majority of the world’s people now live in cities and this trend continues to grow. In 2017, we completed our 3-year Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN) pilot program, which helped 7 US cities reimagine themselves as places of nature connection. In partnership with the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education & Families, the CCCN team provided pilot cities with grants, technical assistance, training and peer learning opportunities for the development and implementation of plans to increase equitable nature access. With renewed funding from The JPB Foundation, we will work with a new cohort of 11 cities in 2018.
Municipal Action Guide
With our National League of Cities (NLC) partners, we published a Municipal Action Guide in 2017, showcasing successful strategies and practical tips to help city leaders increase equitable access to nature experiences.
Online Resource Hub
NLC and C&NN jointly launched a new CCCN Resource Hub to help cities increase access to nature, parks and green space. The hub’s many offerings include a Metrics Toolkit, Citywide Systems Planning Toolkit and a Project Sustainability Framework.
This is, by far, one of the strongest partnerships I have ever been a part of. Not only was I able to bring examples of successes and obstacles to the table, but I learned even more from listening to other cities involved in the CCCN partnership. The information I take back with me is more valuable than I could have anticipated when we received acceptance into this program three years ago. Thank you!
With major support from The JPB Foundation, Pisces Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Fund.
Our Natural Leaders initiative is building a network of diverse young organizers working to connect their communities to quality nature experiences. We provide training, ongoing support and peer-to-peer mentoring for this growing national corps of next-gen leaders.
Throughout the year, Natural Leaders led community action projects ranging from forging partnerships with schools to facilitate nature play and outdoor after-school adventures, to hosting sessions on civic engagement, to serving on conference panels including the Northwest Youth Leadership Summit, the Aspen Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund Convening, and C&NN’s international conference.
Using the outdoors as a platform for leadership development, civic engagement, cultural understanding, career development and community stewardship, we held regional Legacy Camp trainings in Saint Paul, Seattle and Colorado. We also hosted our annual Trainer Summit for Natural Leaders connected through our partnerships with the Cities Connecting Children to Nature initiative, Fresh Tracks and Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Graduates returned to their communities prepared to co-lead Legacy Camps in their regions.
Fresh Tracks: 2017 marked a year of advancing the Fresh Tracks initiative in collaboration with the Aspen Institute’s Center for Native American Youth, My Brother’s Keeper and REI. Young leaders from Compton, CA and Arctic Village, AK who participated in the 2016 inaugural Fresh Tracks Leadership Expedition attended our Natural Leaders Trainer Summit and used the skills they gained to plan and facilitate a presentation at the Aspen Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund Convening to raise awareness of their experience.
I really felt like I was an important part of a great team. Legacy camp provided awesome awareness about effective leadership skills, communication skills, diversity, and nature.
With major support from REI Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Great Outdoors Colorado, Campion Collaborative Fund, Dennis Madsen, U.S. Bank Trust, and Craig McKibben & Sarah Merner.
Families around the world are yearning for ways to get their kids away from screens and into the great outdoors. Numerous studies show that time spent in nature can strengthen family relationships. Throughout 2017, we built large scale partnerships to provide tools and resources for Family Nature Clubs including Nature Quest, an innovative play-based curriculum for families, which gives parents and children tools for self-guided nature exploration, and a storyline to sustain play.
Our partnership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) delivered webinars and technical assistance to a network of 232 zoos and aquariums and provided 12 US zoos with grants to support Family Nature Clubs and nature play initiatives. We also provided programming stipends and nature backpacks to 15 growing Family Nature Clubs and grassroots nature play leaders across the country.
Whether you’re inexperienced in the outdoors or your kids call you a “Nature Mom,” Family Nature Club has something for everyone. We have learned about places, resources, and activities we never would have come to on our own. Our whole family has enjoyed our adventures this past year and look forward to continuing the fun.
With major support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Disney Conservation Fund.
Nearly 900 people from 22 countries joined us in Vancouver, B.C. in May for our annual conference, co-hosted with the Canadian Wildlife Federation. Attendees participated in 50 breakout sessions, 40 walk-shops and 4 field trips — and were inspired by keynote presentations from top thought leaders and influencers in the children and nature movement.
Our 2017 International Conference was presented by the Pisces Foundation, Playcore, Lawson Foundation, Canadian Wildlife Federation and the Disney Conservation Fund. A full list of sponsors and keynote speeches is available on our website.
Percentage of Programmatic Efficiency
Management & General
In 2017, we continued to expand funding for strategic initiatives and made 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.
In addition to many corporate, foundation and individual donors, more than 600 individuals and organizations joined the network in 2017 . We are grateful for the generosity of our funders and members!
The condensed consolidated financial information as of and for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015 has been derived from the Children & Nature Network’s 2017 and 2016/2015 consolidated financial statements, audited by Carpenter Evert & Associates. The condensed consolidated financial information should be read in conjunction with our audited consolidated financial statements and related note s. To obtain copies of our complete audited consolidated financial statements , or to re quest a copy of our 990, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Board of Directors
Board of Directors
Stephan D. Nygren, Chair President and Founder, Serenbe
Lisa Moore, Vice Chair Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategic Services, PlayCore
David Hartwell, Treasurer Former President, Bellcomb Technologies, Inc.
Mohammed Lawal, Secretary Principal Architect and CEO, LSE Architects
Fran Mainella, Past Chair Retired Director of National Park Service; Visiting Scholar, Clemson University
Jesús Aguirre Superintendent, Seattle Parks and Recreation
Kim Moore Bailey CEO, Youth Outside
Nancy Herron Retired Outreach and Education Director, Texas Parks and Wildlife
Kyle McCoy Vice President and Private Wealth Advisor, Goldman Sachs
Svante Myrick Mayor, City of Ithaca, New York
David Orr Counselor to the President and Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies & Politics, Emeritus, Oberlin College
Amy Pertschuk Co-Founder, Children & Nature Network
Stephen J. Pont, MD, MPH, FAAP Medical Director, Texas Center for Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity
Hannah Quimby Executive Director, Quimby Family Foundation
Sophie Sarkar MSc Candidate, Regional and Urban Planning, London School of Economics and Political Science
Jesse Sixkiller Attorney, Gray Plant Mooty
Richard Louv Chair Emeritus, Author and Co-Founder, Children & Nature Network
C&NN STAFF & CONSULTANTS
Paxton Barnes Director of Advancement
Julie Boehland Executive Administrative Assistant
Cathy Carmody Director of Operations
Cheryl Charles, PhD Co-Founder and President Emerita
Avery Cleary International Conference Manager
CJ Goulding Lead Organizer, Natural Leaders Network and Legacy Camps
Cathy Jordan, PhD, LP Consulting Research Director
Margaret Lamar VP of Strategic Initiatives
Monica Lopez Magee Director of Family Initiatives
Juan Martinez VP of Strategic Partnerships
Sarah Milligan-Toffler Executive Director
Ana Cabrera Moses Webmaster and Systems Administrator
Laura Mylan VP of Marketing Communications
Mikaela Randolph Director of Cities and Nature
Jenette Restivo Director of Content Strategy
Mollie Thompson Senior Program Manager
Ruth Wilson, PhD Research Library Curator
Jaime Zaplatosch Director of Green Schoolyards for Healthy Communities