After the first full year of programming for Nature Kids / Jovenes de la Naturaleza (Nature Kids) Program in Lafayette, CO, there are some great results to report!
Nature Kids is a five-year, $10 million collective impact project led by Thorne Nature Experience that provides pre-k to high school, backyard to backcountry, and family integrated environmental education and outdoor recreation programming to underserved Lafayette, CO youth. Cottonwood Institute (CI) is proud to be a lead partner for this project and the work being done in the Lafayette community. To learn more about the Nature Kids Project, check out this short video:
The first year of Nature Kids resulted close to 12,000 participants served, including participants that took more than one program, or 1,929 unique participants, over the course of the year through 43 different programs. Cottonwood Institute is proud to continue to fill the gap in programming for middle and high school aged students not only at Centaurus High School and Angevine Middle School, but at all the schools CI serves. For the middle and high school crowd, CI served 41 students through 4 semesters of our CAP program and logged over 4,200 program contact hours!
Overall, Nature Kids participants reported having joyful, positive outdoor experiences that foster nature connection, social connection (including peer-to-peer, family, community bonds) and increased access to outdoor spaces both within and beyond the Lafayette community. Participants expressed an appreciation for the support with accessing deeper and expanded outdoor experiences, as well as the positive impact on social cohesion, community belonging, and connection with both nature and others while spending time in nature through NKJN programs. In other words, time in nature affords participants joyful experiences that foster social-emotional and mental health.
Check out a few blog posts about Cottonwood Institute’s Nature Kids programs in Lafayette, CO this past spring:
- Angevine Middle School CAP Class Shares the Buzz on Pollinators
- Angevine Middle School CAP Class Works on Building an Extraordinary Team
- Centaurus CAP Class Students Work to Help Prevent Wildfires
- Centaurus CAP Class Inaugural Epic Backpacking Adventure
Nature Kids and partners are optimistic about returning continued great results for year 2 and beyond. The program has built a strong base of dedicated community members and general “positive enthusiasm in the community” has been generated in this first year. As we move the needle on outdoor participation, understanding, and access in Lafayette, CO, we aim to see more folks safely enjoying the outdoors and gaining health and connection to the natural world around them.
Many thanks to Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), The Larrk Foundation, PeyBack Foundation, our donors, and our partners for making this program possible and to Angela Myers from Thorne Nature Experience for compiling and sharing this report and supporting the work of Nature Kids / Jovenes de la Naturaleza in Lafayette, CO!