|Inspiring the minds of children through nature...
The Children’s Nature Institute (CNI) is dedicated to providing young children with the opportunity to explore the natural world through hands-on, educational experiences. We use nature as a tool for fostering creativity, discovery, independence, personal development and improved social and academic skills. Through our programs, including the award winning Outreach Discovery Program, Tykes on Trails Program, Kids Leading Kids, and Family Walks, CNI connects nature to the everyday lives of children by incorporating parents, grandparents, and teachers into the learning process.
Check out our|
video for a quick
intro to CNI
CNI's vision is to inspire children and provide opportunities to be excited and intrigued by all that the natural world has to offer and teach us.
||Physical and psychological health
||Behavior and attitudes
||Disconnection from nature
|K-12 students participating in environmental education programs at school do better on standardized tests in math, reading, writing, and social studies.
||Children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention-deficit
disorder (ADD) show reduced symptoms after playing in
students participating in environmental education programs at school have fewer discipline problems.
||Attendance at US National Parks is declining.
|Short outdoor education programs improve children’s science test scores.
||Children and adults find it easier to concentrate and pay attention after spending time in nature.
outdoor education programs improve children’s cooperation,
conflict resolution, self-esteem, peer relationships, and behavior in
||Sales of entry-level outdoor gear (e.g., camping, hiking, fishing equipment) are down
|Nature provides a rich source of hands-on, multisensory stimulation, which is critical for brain development in early childhood.
in “high-nature conditions” buffers children against
the effect of stressful life events.
who have positive experiences with nature in childhood care more
about the environment as adults.
||Children are spending far more time in front of computer and TV screens than outdoors.
|Environment-based education improves high school students’ motivation to achieve academically.
of nature reduce stress levels and speed recovery from
illness, injury, or stressful experiences.
who participate in outdoor education programs are more likely
to engage in positive environmental behaviors such as recycling.
||Parents are limiting children’s freedom to play outside.
||Children’s play is more creative and egalitarian in natural areas than in more structured or paved areas.
||Families spend very little time in their own backyards.
||Most children in LA do not have easy access to parks.
here to see what educational authorities have to say about nature-based,
or environment-based, education.
examples of how nature-based activities develop academic skills.
WHO else cares
Individuals and organizations writing about, researching, or working to enhance
the connection between kids and nature.
This San Diego-based journalist, author and child advocate has brought the growing
crisis of children’s disconnection from nature into the public eye with
his acclaimed 2005 book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature
Deficit Disorder (Algonquin Books).
The Children and Nature Network
This non-profit organization is chaired by Richard Louv, and is working to bring together a wide range of
organizations interested in bringing children and nature together. “The
vision and mission of the Children & Nature Network is to give every child
in every community a wide range of opportunities to experience nature directly,
reconnecting our children with nature’s joys and lessons, its profound
physical and mental bounty.”
The Coalition for Education in the Outdoors
Based at the State University of New York at Cortland, this is a “non-profit network of environmental education centers, conservation and recreation organizations, schools, fish and wildlife agencies, and businesses to support outdoor education.”
White Hutchinson Learning & Leisure Group
This is a small commercial company specializing in the design of educational outdoor play areas for children. They have written extensively about this topic, including
this article about the importance of young children forming a relationship with nature.
Landscape and Human Health Laboratory
This research group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, led by
Dr. Frances Kuo, studies the “connection between greenery and human health”
and has published many studies demonstrating the power of natural features in
the environment to improve psychological health and quality of life, primarily
in inner-city settings.
Mary S. Rivkin, Ph.D.
Coordinator of the Early Childhood Education program at the University of Maryland,
Dr. Rivkin has written extensively about the importance of nature and outdoor
play for children’s education.
Natural Learning Initiative
This research and extension program of the College of Design at North Carolina
State University, led by Dr. Robin Moore, conducts research on the importance
of outdoor activity in early childhood.
State Education and Environmental Roundtable (SEER)
This collaboration between
16 state Departments of Education works to promote the “EIC Model”
(using the environment as an integrating context for learning) in K-12 education.
North American Association for Environmental Education
NAAEE is an association
of environmental education professionals, developing standards for environmental
education, hosting conferences on the topic, and providing resources and certification.
National Environmental Education and Training Foundation
NEETF is a non-profit organization “dedicated to advancing environmental
education in its many forms,” which it does through numerous educational
programs for schools and the general public.
Center for Ecoliteracy
Dedicated to “education
for sustainable living,” this San Francisco Bay area foundation makes
grants to educational organizations and school communities, focusing primarily
on the use of school lunches as a tool for experiential learning.
Sierra Club – Building Bridges to the Outdoors
Through this project, the Sierra Club’s goal is to “give every child in America
an outdoor experience.”
Trust for Public Land
TPL is “a national,
nonprofit, land conservation organization that conserves land for people to
enjoy as parks, community gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural
places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come.” They have
published reports on the access (or lack thereof) people have to natural parklands,
and the importance of such access to health and quality of life.
Hosted by the Child Educational Center serving Caltech and the Jet Propulsion
Lab (JPL), and funded by First 5 LA, this project seeks to “increase the
quantity, quality, and benefit of outdoor experiences for children aged 0 -
5 in LA County child care centers.”
and the Environment Initiative (CA)
This effort, led by the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California
Integrated Waste Management Board, seeks to develop a strategy to “bring
education about the environment into California’s primary and secondary
Officers and Board Members
Chief Financial Officer
Director of Community Outreach
Advisory and Honorary Board Members
Director, L.A. County Department of Parks and Recreation
Congresswoman, 36th District of California
former Councilwoman, 11th District of Los Angeles
Congressman, 27th District of California