Fostering Health y Communities
through Connection with Nature
Community Ecology Mapping (CEM) is a multi-layered approach to locally identifying: ecological resources and natural areas; the owners and managers of these physical places; and the organizations and entities working to connect people with the natural environment. This locally specific (typically county-level) ecological and social "map" is then integrated with a "path" along the human lifespan of research-based best practices for connecting people with the natural world, from infants to the elderly. Combined, the CEM helps local organizations identify gaps in what is available to their citizens and work together to "pass the baton" as people transition through life phases to ensure robust and continuous opportunities for connecting people and the natural environment.
CEI is in the process of piloting the CEM process in Maryland and creating a toolkit for broad use.
Community building Ecological restoration Resilience enhancement
Experiential education Human health Nature connection
The Community Supported Education (CSE) model takes inspiration from Community Supported Agriculture, where members make a commitment to the viability of local farms by paying into the season's crop and also helping with the work of farming in exchange for a share of the harvest. With CSE, all members of the education community are engaged, active participants that make contributions of both time and money to create a strong and flourishing learning ecosystem. It is important for CSE programs to be place-based and offer a curriculum rooted in nature-based experiential learning.
Family Nature Clubs (FNCs) are community-based organizations that regularly bring families together to enjoy the benefits of time spent in nature. FNCs can essentially be created by anyone in any community. What FNCs have in common in their structure is that the events occur outdoors, are geared toward full family participation, and are designed to develop positive connections with nature through direct experience and informal learning opportunities.
The Community Ecology Institute