Partnerships and Pilot Programs


Sun Ray Natural Library Project

The Children & Nature Network has launched a national demonstration project to connect communities to nature through library and park partnerships. The project is underway at the newly renovated Sun Ray Library in St. Paul, Minnesota where the community is collaboratively designing projects to ignite new pathways to outdoor activity through literacy, environmental stewardship and youth leadership.

This initiative engages youth leaders and community members in three primary areas:

  1. Library Youth and Family Activities: “Exploration Backpacks” to check out, a Family Nature Club, and many hands-on activities will engage children and families in fun learning and play in the library and in the adjacent park.
  2. Urban Greening Efforts: Neighborhood residents and community volunteers will engage in several greening projects to enhance the biodiversity and ecological richness of Conway Park with trees, native shrubs, and a pollinator-friendly garden.
  3. Youth Leadership Development: In partnership with St. Paul youth-serving organizations, we will conduct a Natural Leaders Training to inspire young leadership to engage in and sustain the library and greening activities.

We envision libraries as nature-rich community hubs providing indoor and outdoor areas  and programs to foster environmental literacy, and appreciation for nature through reading and urban land restoration efforts.



St. Paul Public Library
St. Paul Parks and Recreation
Lawal Scott Erickson Architects


Wells Fargo Environmental Solutions for Communities Grant Program
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation


Sun Ray Natural Library Project Highlights

  • The Children & Nature Network has convened over 40 community organizations to provide insight, input and engagement in the design of the projects and programs that will be put into action in St. Paul for this demonstration project.
  • A community celebration at the Sun Ray Library will take place on June 12-13 where we will engage the whole community in urban greening efforts and the library’s family activities.


“By creating libraries with integrated natural spaces, we create a center for developing kids’ intelligence, curiosity and imagination. Books nurture learning and inner imagination, while play in nature engages the sense of curiosity and exploration critical to healthy brain development. Putting both of these essential childhood experiences in one place is a simple idea, but one that could have profound effects on whole neighborhoods.”

Richard Louv, co-founder of Children & Nature Network and best-selling author of Last Child in the Woods



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