Helping Youth ‘Explore Nature’ in Cincinnati Parks

Cincinnati Parks’ “Explore Nature!” programs educate and excite people of all ages about the natural and historical resources in Cincinnati Parks. These programs include summer camps for children, wildflower hikes, animal encounters, and more. The Cincinnati Parks Foundation is proud to support these programs in a variety of ways. In the last five years, the Foundation has invested over $81,000 in Explore Nature! programming.

Nature Connections

In the free Nature Connections program, naturalists bring nature education to public schools that have at least 85% of the student population eligible for free lunch (Title 1). The program includes a fall and winter lesson where a naturalist visits 2nd-5th grade students in their classrooms or a nearby park. These lessons are interactive and exploratory while aligning with the school curriculum. In the spring, the same students are bussed out to a nature center for a special day in the woods, at no cost to the school. Depending on the school, some of these lessons are given in a mix of both English and Spanish.

In 2022, the Foundation provided $8,000 to support the program’s bussing and also secured a generous donation of $10,000 from Macy’s to cover the cost of bussing in 2023.

Nature Next Door

The Nature Next Door program provides direct outreach to low income neighborhoods with free pop-up and scheduled programs. Naturalists visit both parks and local daycare centers with crafts, live animals, and other activities for children to engage with.

In 2020, the Foundation provided $25,000 in support of Nature Next Door which included the expansion of virtual outreach tools in a time when COVID restrictions were causing major disruptions to the program.

Summer Camps

Every summer, Explore Nature! offers award-winning day camps at various parks for children ages 3-15. These camps include hikes, games, live animal encounters, experiments, and are offered on varying topics.

In 2020, the Foundation established the Stephenson Sisters’ Scholarship Fund. This annual $3,500 scholarship fund provides free or reduced pricing for underserved youth to attend Explore Nature! summer camps.

More Programs in YOUR Parks

The team of Explore Nature! naturalists are passionate individuals with the mission of instilling wonder for the natural world in others. They are constantly creating new and unique programs in your parks. Visit the Cincinnati Parks website to see a list of programs!