Assessing Connection to Nature

By Martha Monroe and Gabby Salazar




Are you interested in measuring and understanding a population’s connection to nature? Do you want to know if your program has influenced your participants’ connection to nature? After over two years of work, we are excited to share the Practitioner Guide to Assessing Connection to Nature with you. We have developed this guide for (and with) practitioners, organizations, and researchers interested in exploring and measuring connection to nature among their respective audiences. The 63-page guide provides 11 tools and approaches that you can use to assess connection to nature, and it includes copies of those tools for easy access. The guide is also designed to help you choose the right tool for your needs, whether you work with young children, teenagers, or adults. 

We know that connection to nature benefits humans – it makes us healthier and happier, enhances our learning and creativity, and reduces our stress. We also know that many of you work tirelessly to enhance these connections, by designing urban green spaces, by taking kids into the woods, and by creating nature playgrounds.

This project was led by researchers and staff from the University of Florida, Stanford University, Children & Nature Network, and NAAEE, and reflects the efforts of dozens of researchers and practitioners. In 2018, we brought together 23 researchers and practitioners for a 2-day workshop before the NAAEE conference in Spokane, Washington. Together, our group reviewed 26 tools to determine which ones actually measure the connection to nature and would be most useful to practitioners. We presented on our progress at the 2019 NAAEE and C&NN conferences and solicited feedback on the guide. We were overwhelmed by the response! Both rooms overflowed with practitioners eager to get useful materials. We received feedback on the draft from over 220 conference attendees. We used this feedback to improve the guide and we think that it is clearer and more useful as a result. 

We know that connection to nature benefits humans – it makes us healthier and happier, enhances our learning and creativity, and reduces our stress. We also know that many of you work tirelessly to enhance these connections, by designing urban green spaces, by taking kids into the woods, and by creating nature playgrounds.


We hope that the information in this guide helps you improve existing programs, design more effective strategies, and understand what is working and why. We are grateful to all of the researchers who allowed us to publish their tools, to the Pisces Foundation for supporting this project, and to everyone who provided input on this guide over the past two years. We also hope that you are taking the time to foster your own connection to nature – it helps remind us why we are in this field and restores our ability to keep at it. 

We are leading a global movement to increase equitable access to nature so that children– and natural places–can thrive.​ ​We ​do this ​by investing in leadership and communities through sharing evidence-based resources, scaling innovative solutions and driving policy change.

© 2020 Children & Nature Network