DEAR CHILDREN AND NATURE CHAMPIONS,
It is well recognized that childhood has moved indoors, leaving today’s children disconnected from the natural world. Frequent reports of excessive screen time, lack of physical activity and increases in chronic childhood diseases are compounded by news of climate change and its impact on global economies and the wild places we treasure. These worldwide trends are real — and present urgent challenges.
But we’d like to share another perspective, based on emerging trends:
Over the past year, school districts across the US committed to creating nature-filled school grounds to improve the health and wellbeing of their students and communities. City leaders adopted policies that both increase climate resilience and better connect people to high-quality green spaces, with a focus on removing barriers for those with the least access. A group of health professionals came together to advance regular outdoor time as a key prevention and intervention for children’s healthy development. Growing networks of diverse young adults and grassroots leaders implemented action plans that are increasing equitable access to nature in their communities. And more than 400 influencers gathered for our leadership summit to set action agendas for measurable change.
We are honored to support the people, partners, and programs working to secure a healthier future for our children and our planet.
Our role in advancing the evidence base and mobilizing the children and nature movement has never felt more relevant. By building the capacity of leaders and communities through cross-sector convenings, research, training, peer learning, technical assistance, grants and the development of practical tools and resources, we are fueling social change. And with the support of our 600 incredible members and our many valued partners, we will continue to build a world in which all children learn, play and grow with nature in their everyday lives.
INSPIRING LEADERS, GROWING THE MOVEMENT
In 2018, we held an invitational Leadership Summit, bringing together 438 cross-sector leaders from 10 countries. Participants developed shared goals, action agendas and evaluation methods in six strategic areas: city government, grassroots leaders, green schoolyards, next generation leaders, nature-based research, and health. Core themes of diversity, equity and inclusion guided their work.
The summit is part of our new biennial conference model, designed to accelerate and sustain lasting change. On even years, smaller groups of changemakers will be invited to leadership summits to refine and evaluate progress on action agendas. During odd years, we will continue to host international conferences, open to all and recognized as the world’s largest gatherings of the children and nature movement.
I felt I was able to take tangible things back to my work and build my network to continue the movement. Most times when I come back from a conference I am overwhelmed, but this time, I was empowered.
Special thanks to our founding sponsors, Bechtel Foundation and PlayCore, and to our presenting sponsors, the Pisces Foundation and East Bay Regional Parks District. A full list of sponsors and keynote speeches is available on our website childrenandnature.org.
MAKING THE CASE FOR NATURE CONNECTION
Advancing the Evidence Base
Scientific evidence is the foundation on which all of our work is built. From curating the world’s largest collection of scientific literature on the benefits on nature to hosting advocacy webinars, we play a unique role in helping the children and nature movement “make the case” for nature connection. In 2018, our work with the Science of Nature-Based Learning Collaborative Research Network resulted in an international research agenda that is guiding the field in better understanding how time in nature influences children’s learning and development. We also began collecting data for a study looking at the benefits of teaching science outdoors versus in a classroom.
Our research team hit a new milestone in 2018: we now offer summaries of more than 850 peer-reviewed studies on children and nature in our online Research Library — a 30% increase from 2017. In addition to publishing monthly Research Digests highlighting the latest additions to the library, we also piloted four specially themed Digests and paired three of them with national webinars.
Connecting Researchers for Impact
We convened 80 top researchers and practitioners at our Leadership Summit, resulting in projects that included a declaration to help garner support and bring attention to nature-based learning research; a strategy for pairing researchers, community partners and funders; and, a toolkit to build research capacity for early career and lay researchers.
The research digest is one of the only emails that I still subscribe to because of how incredibly valuable it is.
With major support from the National Science Foundation, Turner Foundation, and the Pisces Foundation.
BRINGING NATURE’S BENEFITS TO SCHOOLS
What will it take to ensure that all US school children have access to a green schoolyard by 2050? Focused commitment, broad mobilization to change policy and strategic action. In 2018, we took critical steps towards achieving this vision by aligning cross-sector partners, building support among educators, and providing advocates with practical tools and resources.
At our 2018 Leadership Summit, 115 passionate leaders finalized a national Green Schoolyards Action Agenda, designed to increase equitable access to nature on school campuses across the US. The agenda is galvanizing cross-sector support for a unified path forward.
We must build a system to change the narrative for students on the fringe in our school districts. Research shows us that providing green schoolyards, environmental education and nature experiences can be part of the solution. We [superintendents] can’t let our own fear and lack of knowledge get in the way of providing the best for our kids.
Creating & Sharing Resources
Our Green Schoolyards Resource Hub continues to increase awareness of the benefits of green school grounds for children. In 2018, we added new case studies, advocacy tools and a process map that helps users navigate the resource hub to better plan green schoolyards initiatives. We also hosted 5 webinars with 13 partners, reaching more than 2,000 community and education leaders.
To accomplish our goals, we need the support of school administrators. In 2018, we developed a Green Schoolyard Advocacy Toolkit to equip educators with tips, presentations, handouts and community assessment worksheets to help them identify allies and advance green schoolyards initiatives.
With major support from the National Science Foundation, Turner Foundation, and the Pisces Foundation.
CONNECTING CHILDREN TO NATURE IN CITIES
With most of the world’s children living in urban areas, we need to reimagine cities as places of nature connection. In 2018, we worked with 18 US cities as part of the Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN) initiative. In partnership with the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education & Families, we focus on capacity-building for municipal leaders and training for youth and local residents.
We hosted our first Mayor’s Institute for city leaders on the forefront of the children and nature movement. We increased our focus on equity, including the addition of equity officers to CCCN city teams, and conducted civic engagement training for young adults through our Fresh Tracks partnership. We also published new case studies and tools focused on Youth Leadership Development, Nature Connection in Early Childhood Sites and a literature review on Equitable Access to Nature’s Benefits. But perhaps one of the biggest indicators of progress was the creation of full-time city staff positions focused on nature connection in four CCCN communities.
City leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the power of equitable access to nature as a core strategy to improve the health and wellbeing of their residents, promote youth development, and create stronger communities.
2018 also provided a glimpse into the potential for long-term impact as our initial 7-city cohort celebrated success: Austin, TX opened its first green schoolyard in a citywide Green School Parks effort. Louisville, KY utilized its Summerworks youth employment program to provide children with access to nature, and St. Paul, MN expanded its Nature-Smart Libraries and hosted nature-based summer camps in low-income communities, to name a few.
With major support from The JPB Foundation, Pisces Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Fund.
DEVELOPING YOUNG LEADERS
Our Natural Leaders initiative empowers diverse young adults who are transforming communities by building cultural awareness and connections to nature. In 2018, we provided our signature Legacy Camp leadership trainings, resources, grants and peer-to-peer mentoring for this growing network of community organizers.
Expanding Regional Impact
Graduates of past Legacy Camps carried their skills forward to grow regional networks of young leaders by facilitating trainings in Minnesota and Colorado. Regional Legacy Camps equipped participants with tools to develop and lead community action projects. And throughout last year, Natural Leaders led community campouts, hikes and after-school adventures, developed local partnerships with schools, held health days in local parks, and spoke out in a national outdoor advocacy event in Washington DC.
Partnering with Fresh Tracks
In 2018, our Natural Leaders team helped advance the Fresh Tracks initiative, led by the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute (CNAY). Using our Legacy Camp model, we planned and facilitated trainings for rural, urban, and indigenous young in four regions of the country: Southwest, West Coast, Northeast, and Midwest. Participants in these sessions are now implementing a variety of community projects with a focus on environmental stewardship, cross-cultural connection and social justice. In addition to CNAY, core partners include the Opportunity Youth Forum at the Aspen Institute and My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.
You are building a community of change agents using the outdoors as a platform to create social change, as well as better health for people, places and our planet.
With major support from REI Foundation and Great Outdoors Colorado.
SUPPORTING ACTIVE, OUTDOOR FAMILIES
Parents and caregivers are critical influencers in the lives of children — and within the children and nature movement. Throughout 2018, our Family Nature Clubs encouraged families to get nature time back into busy calendars.
Expanding Family Nature Clubs
Our partnership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) provided 12 US zoos with grants, nature backpacks and technical assistance — and supported a network of 232 zoos and aquariums. With our support, zoos expanded their Family Nature Clubs, reaching people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. New partnerships with schools, municipalities, and faith-based groups helped AZA-based clubs reach children with learning disabilities, families in crisis, and Spanish-speaking communities.
Reducing Barriers to Nature
In partnership with the National Park Service, we launched a community-based process to better engage families in Washington DC and surrounding areas. A key component of this regional strategy was working with community organizations to reduce barriers to nature for families.
We always intend to spend time together as a family outdoors but often times end up distracted with household chores and such. Nature Club has helped us dedicate at least one evening a month to spend together outdoors, enjoying nature and each other!
With support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service.
INFLUENCING INTERNATIONAL POLICY
C&NN served as lead author of a report for the #NatureForAll campaign of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The report, titled Home to Us All: How Connecting with Nature Helps Us Care for Ourselves and the Earth. Its companion summary is available in English, French and Spanish. Recommendations from the report were shared at conferences in Canada and Egypt, and are being considered by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
In Austria, C&NN experts helped facilitate a session at the Salzburg Forum titled, “Nature and Childhood: From Research and Activism to Policies for Global Change,” resulting in recommendations for policy and action. We also provided technical support to Brazil’s Alana Institute and Maria Farinha Filmes for production of a feature film that will inspire people to connect children and families with nature from a South American perspective. The film is scheduled for release in 2019.
With the most extensive collection of research, news, and thought leadership for connecting children and families to nature, C&NN is leading the effort to develop evidence-based policies and practices that will help humans thrive in harmony with nature for decades to come.
With support from the IUCN Commission on Education and Communications, Parks Canada, Ontario Trillium Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Salzburg Forum and the Alana Institute.
Percentage of Programmatic Efficiency
Management & General
In 2018, we continued to invest in key strategic initiatives to build leadership and community capacity through evidence based solutions and policy change. We remain committed to establishing a three month operating reserve to insure financial stability and continued to focus on organizational sustainability to increase our scope and impact.
The success of any movement is due to the commitment of its members. We are grateful for the generous and continued support from our corporate, foundation and individual donors, as well as the nearly 600 members who joined the network in 2018.
The condensed consolidated financial information as of and for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016 has been derived from the Children & Nature Network’s 2018 and 2017/2016 consolidated financial statements, audited by Carpenter Evert & Associates. This information should be read in conjunction with our audited consolidated financial statements and related notes. To obtain copies or to request a copy of our 990, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
David Hartwell, Chair Former President, Bellcomb Technologies, Inc.
Kim Moore Bailey, Vice Chair CEO, Youth Outside
Stephan D. Nygren, Immediate Past Chair President and Founder, Serenbe
Kyle McCoy, Treasurer Vice President and Private Wealth Advisor, Goldman Sachs
Mohammed Lawal, Secretary Principal Architect and CEO, LSE Architects
Lisa Moore, Governance Chair Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategic Services, PlayCore
Jesús Aguirre, Equity and Inclusion Chair President/CEO, Tower Steel Services, Inc.
Dr. Gail Christopher Former Senior Advisor and Vice President, W. K. Kellogg Foundation
Nancy Herron Retired Outreach and Education Director, Texas Parks and Wildlife
Fran Mainella Retired Director of National Park Service; Visiting Scholar, Clemson University
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 Science & Population Health Medical Director, Texas Department of State Health Services
Hannah Quimby Executive Director, Quimby Family Foundation
Jesse Sixkiller Attorney, Gray Plant Mooty
Richard Louv Chair Emeritus, Author and Co-Founder, Children & Nature Network
Board term ended in 2018:
Sophie Sarkar Partner, Avarna Group Equity Fellow, Philadelphia Office of Sustainability
C&NN STAFF & CONSULTANTS
Paxton Barnes Director of External Relations
Cathy Carmody Director of Operations
Cheryl Charles, PhD Co-Founder and President Emerita
Avery Cleary International Conference Manager
Amy Crawford Vice President, Institutional Giving & Major Grants
CJ Goulding Manager of Community Leadership Development
Cathy Jordan, PhD, LP Consulting Research Director
Monica Lopez Magee Director, Cities & Nature
Juan Martinez Vice President, Strategic Partnerships
Sarah Milligan-Toffler Executive Director
Laura Mylan Sr. Vice President, External Relations
Jenette Restivo Director, Content Strategy
Ruth Wilson, PhD Research Library Curator
Jaime Zaplatosch Director, Green Schoolyards for Healthy Communities
Special thanks to team members who transitioned to new adventures in 2018:
Elissa Hoagland Izmailyan Director of Cities and Nature
Margaret Lamar VP of Strategic Initiatives
Ana Cabrera Moses Webmaster and Systems Administrator
Mollie Thompson Senior Program Manager