NEXT GENERATION: Delivering the Mental Health Benefits of Nature Contact to Our Children

This workshop will explore innovative, impactful and replicable ways to deliver the mental health benefits of nature to children, teens and early adults. 


9-9:50 am: Panel Discussion

9:50-10:00: Break

10-10:28: Breakout/World Cafe Round 1

10:30-11:00: Breakout/World Cafe Round 2

11:00-11:05: Transition Time

11:05-11:55: Roundup / Next Steps (plenary)

11:55 am – 12 pm: Thank You / Adjourn

To begin the workshop, a panel discussion will focus on the ways panelists are connecting vulnerable and underserved youth with nature, creating a pathway for the mental and emotional healing that that connection can provide. We’ll explore how they’re making those connections, the similarities between their approaches, and the ways those similarities incorporate and reflect research on the topic. We’ll also discuss how best to measure programs’ impact, and whether such measurements could benefit youth programming overall.

Moderator: Meg Kelly, Director, Space to Grow (2020 SHIFT Award Winner)


  • Alyssa Solis, science teacher, Los Angeles Unified; Field Instructor, Outward Bound Adventures (2020 Emerging Leader)
  • Melanie Borger, Youth Outreach Manager, RIVERSPORT Foundation (2020 SHIFT Award Winner)
  • Elyse Rylander, Founder, OUT There Adventures (2020 SHIFT Award Winner)
  • David Victorson, PhD, Associate Professor of Medical Social Sciences, Northwestern; Founder, True North Treks

Following the panel discussion, participants and panelists will be placed in breakout rooms in smaller groups to continue discussing the topic using a World Cafe format.

Two 30-minute rounds of world cafe-style breakouts will be followed by a thirty-minute “roundup” that reports out on the findings of each breakout room.

The final thirty minutes of the workshop will synthesize the proceedings into next steps.

NOTE TO ALL PARTICIPANTS: Both the Panel Discussion and the Roundup / Next Steps will be recorded for later distribution. If you do not wish to be recorded, you are kindly asked not to participate in these elements of the workshop.

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