Sonoma County Selected as a “Nature Everywhere” Community

A National Initiative to Increase Equitable Access to Nature

The Children & Nature Network, the National League of Cities, and KABOOM! have partnered to launch a new initiative designed to increase equitable access to Nature Everywhere children live, learn, and play in 100 communities by 2025. Nineteen U.S. communities have been selected through a competitive application process to join an inaugural Nature Everywhere Communities cohort. Nature Everywhere Communities will receive two years of strategic planning, technical support, and start-up funding to develop and implement community-driven plans for connecting children and families to nature-based experiences and learning. 

Sonoma County team, onsite at the Austin event, from left to right: youth member Jazmine, Renee Saucedo, Nubia Padilla, youth member Carlo, Margaret Boeger.

The Benefits of Nature

A growing body of evidence indicates that spending time outdoors, in nature, is essential for children’s healthy development. Time in nature improves physical and mental health, academic outcomes, and social-emotional learning. Equitable access to nearby nature-filled spaces and outdoor learning and play helps children and families thrive – and can support community-wide sustainability, climate resilience, green workforce, and public health goals.

Sonoma County, California Selection

The Sonoma County team, called Sonoma County Youth Access to Nature, is a collaboration of city departments, local nonprofits, and higher education institutions, including Raizes Collective, Pepperwood Preserve, Sonoma County Regional Parks, Landpaths, Sonoma Environmental Education Collaborative, and the Santa Rosa Junior College. The group brings a strong youth development focus to their efforts of nature connections.

“The Sonoma County team’s application hit every mark when it comes to our Nature Everywhere goals,” says Sarah Milligan-Toffler, President and CEO of the Children & Nature Network. “Through a collaborative process focused on improving youth health and well-being through nature connections, this team is poised for Nature Everywhere’s process of community assessment, youth engagement, and action planning. We are thrilled to support and join in their efforts.”

“We are very excited to engage in this long-term collaborative partnership, which is designed by youth, for youth! This partnership will support our transition-aged youth who have been through so much trauma in their young lives with the mega-fires and COVID.  Our goal is to elevate youth voices through community listening sessions, and provide the support and infrastructure for mental health and wellness through connection to nature, arts, and culture.”

– Margaret Boeger, Pepperwood Education Director and Project Lead.

The Nature Everywhere Community Team Journey

As a first step, the  Sonoma team joined eight other communities for a Nature Everywhere Vision Lab in Austin, Texas, November 1-3, to explore proven nature connection strategies and connect with technical assistance experts from the Children & Nature Network, the National League of Cities, and KABOOM!. Over the next two years, the Sonoma County team will:

  • Engage youth and community residents in creating visions for equitable access to nature
  • Map community stakeholders, assets, and gaps
  • Conduct funding and policy scans
  • Identify the best nature connection strategies for the Sonoma County community
  • Build and deepen regional partnerships
  • Develop and begin implementing an outdoor inclusion and access plan

Throughout the process, Sonoma County and other Nature Everywhere community teams will have access to a national peer learning network; technical assistance; case-making research; resources, case studies and planning tools; seed grants of up to $50,000; and eventually, access to larger catalytic grants for implementation. Nature Everywhere partners (Children & Nature Network, National League of Cities, and KABOOM!) will also help communities track outcomes and communicate the impact of their work both locally and nationally. 

For more information about the Sonoma County Team, contact Margaret Boeger, Pepperwood Education Director at mboeger@pepperwoodpreserve.org.

For more information about the Nature Everywhere initiative, visit childrenandnature.org/nature-everywhere, read this national news release, and/or contact Laura Mylan, Children & Nature Network, laura@childrenandnature.org. 

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About the Children & Nature Network

The Children & Nature Network believes, and research proves, that regular time outdoors is essential for children’s healthy development. The non-profit organization leads a global movement of leaders, educators, practitioners, and parents working to ensure equitable access to the benefits of nature everywhere children live, learn, and play. Learn more at childrenandnature.org and get connected on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (X), and The Trailheada free online community for global children and nature leaders.

About the National League of Cities

The National League of Cities (NLC) is the voice of America’s cities, towns, and villages, representing more than 200 million people. NLC works to strengthen local leadership, influence federal policy, and drive innovative solutions. NLC’s Center for Leadership, Education, Advancement, and Development is the go-to place for city leaders and their partners seeking to improve outcomes for children and families. Stay connected with NLC on  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. 

About KABOOM! 
KABOOM! is the national nonprofit committed to ending playspace inequity – the reality that quality places to play are not available to every child, especially in communities of color. Since 1996, KABOOM! has partnered with kids and communities to create or transform 17,000+ playspaces and ensure that nearly 12 million kids have equitable access to the critical benefits and opportunities that playspaces offer. In 2022, KABOOM! launched the 25 in 5 Initiative to End Playspace Inequity to accelerate its mission in 25 high-priority locations over five years. Learn more at kaboom.org or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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