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"Health and the Natural Environment" Grants Awarded to Projects Blending Education, Health, and Conservation

Grants totaling $32,000 will be used towards volunteer and educational activities that restore America’s forests, promote healthy activity and teach participants how to protect the sustainability of local public lands.

This year’s “Health and the Natural Environment” grant from the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), with funding support from US Forest Service (USFS), sought projects that combined outdoor learning, physical activity, and volunteering to teach diverse communities about the nature-health connection while conducting conservation activities, such as planting bird-friendly gardens and removing invasive plant species.

The grantees wil receive up to $4,000 each to hold activities on local Forest Service lands, federal public lands, local and municipal public lands, or on public lands within urban communities that seek to connect to urban forests and nature-based spaces.

“These activities not only allow these groups to do good and necessary work on public lands, but they also bring out community members who are first time visitors,” said Isabel Spake, NEEF’s director of grants administration. “It is our hope visitors both enjoy their natural surroundings and learn of the many mental and physical health benefits of being outdoors while caring for the land.”

Check out what the High Desert Partnership was able to accomplish with their grant:

Grants were awarded to the following recipients:

  • Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods in Riverwoods, Illinois, will host a series of events to foster public land stewardship and provide education on the mental health benefits of nature.
  • Sheep Mountain Alliance in Telluride, Colorado, will organize and oversee a group outing for 180, K-2 regional students to the Telluride Valley Floor, a 570-acre parcel of municipal open space.
  • Friends of Patterson Park in Baltimore, Maryland, will host La Celebración del Día de la Tierra y Bienestar, a free community event geared towards Latinx youth and families in Southeast Baltimore.
  • High Desert Partnership in Hines, Oregon, plans to update the Idlewild Interpretive Trail with interpretive signs and functional sitting benches.
  • Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation in Reno, Nevada, will host an invasive species removal project in Idlewild Park.
  • Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group in Belfair, Washington, will host an event to provide maintenance for The Union River trail.
  • Greater Arkansas Nature Association in Salida, Colorado, will facilitate two full day field trips to public lands to participate in restoration work, ecology stations, and stations promoting physical and mental health.
  • Groundwork Bridgeport, Inc. in Bridgeport, Connecticut, will establish opportunities for residents including youth and families to steward and recreate at Elton Rogers Woodland Park while increasing nature-based activities that educate the public on mental and physical health improvements associated with spending time outdoors in forested landscapes.
  • Trailhead Institute in Denver, Colorado, will host a series of five nature immersion and fitness walking events in the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks system.
  • Rocky Gap State Park Volunteer Team, Inc. in Flintstone, Maryland, will promote health & well-being in the Latinx community by hosting a series of events.
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