Hands-on outdoor learning has been shown to improve academic performance, problem-solving skills, and mental and physical health in students.
Through NFWF’s Nature of Learning program, grants are offered to develop curriculum-based lessons and activities that increase students’ knowledge and awareness about the outdoors and encourage stewardship for the environment. The Nature of Learning program supports field experiences and student-led stewardship projects to connect classroom lessons to real-world issues. It also promotes partnerships among local schools, community groups, natural resource professionals, and local businesses to connect people with nature and ensure the future of conservation.
The Nature of Learning Grant Program provides seed grants to assist schools and non-profit organizations in efforts to use National Wildlife Refuges as outdoor classrooms. Specifically, this program provides two different levels of grants: 1) up to $10,000 for start-up grants to assist with new programs and 2) up to $5,000 to provide continued support for existing programs.
Funding priorities for this program include:
- Using National Wildlife Refuges as outdoor classrooms to promote a greater understanding of local conservation issues
- Encouraging an interdisciplinary approach to learning that seeks to enhance student academic achievement
- Utilizing field experiences and student-led stewardship projects to connect classroom lessons to real-world issues
- Establishing partnerships among local schools, community groups, natural resource professionals and local businesses.
Since 1994, this program has provided 236 awards totaling over $1.4 million in federal funds. While matching contributions are not required of these grantees, over $2.5 million has been contributed towards these projects, which significantly leverage the investment of federal seed funding. Schools systems nationwide and thousands of children have benefitted from these grants, establishing meaningful environmental education curricula and instilling a knowledge and love of nature in students.
Funding for this program is provided through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).