The Nature Connections program aims to help residents of La Crosse County experience the many health benefits of engaging with nature, and advocates for accessible and diverse natural spaces for making these connections.
Connecting with nature is important to our health and well-being, but separation from nature is an unintended consequence of our modern world. Research shows that connecting with nature has a multitude of health benefits, including reduced stress, depression, anxiety, and tension; reduced ADHD in children; reduced blood pressure, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cortisol levels; and increased self-esteem, vitality, learning abilities and longevity. Connecting with nature for as little as 5 minutes a day brings positive health benefits, and the Nature Connections program helps people of all ages discover ways they can get their daily dose of nature.
Research also shows that exposure to outdoor areas that have more biological diversity (biodiversity) provide the greatest health benefits. Unfortunately, much of our urban environment consists only of turfgrass, asphalt and concrete.
The Nature Connections program is working to increase La Crosse County residents’ engagement with nature while also increasing biodiversity in urban areas, by encouraging residents and municipalities to add “wildscape” areas of native plants, pollinator gardens, and diverse tree & shrub species. As programs become available, we will share them here on our website and also on our Facebook page.
Additional information and research on the positive health benefits of nature and biodiversity are referenced here!
Each month through September we will host a forester-led hike to enable you to discover new outdoor spaces, become more educated about them, and to enjoy a social opportunity to connect with nature. Details on our next hike will be posted shortly.
Final Forester-Led Nature Walk for 2017: Watch here, on our Facebook page, and our Meet-Up Group for any updates, as weather and trail accessibility can impact the schedule):Previous locations include: La Crosse River Conservancy, Oak Trail in Lower Hixon Forest, and Goose Island County Park.
Additional Resources (Nature Activities):
- DNR – Explore Outdoors: Find State wildlife areas and outdoor parks.
- Mississippi Valley Conservancy: Trail and Nature Preserves, Outings, and more in our area.
- WisCorps: Find nature programs/camps and events for a variety of ages at Myrick Park Center and in the local area.
- National Wildlife Federation – Activity Finder: Ideas for ways families can engage with nature.
- Children and Nature Network: Organization aimed at connecting children with nature, including the Vitamin N challenge and activity ideas.
Additional Resources (Native Biodiversity):
- Six Perennials to Get You Started/Bee Friendly Plants: From the Weigent-Hogan Neighborhood Association, six perennials (and varieties of them) to start your native garden (PowerPoint and list) + local nurseries supplying some or all native plants
- Audubon Native Plants Database: Native plant suggestions and resources based on your zip code
- Wild Ones – Native Plants for Attracting Birds: A guide for planting in WI to attract birds
- Native Nurseries: A DNR guide to nurseries with a focus on native plants
Additional Resources (Economics of Nature and Health):
- Economics of Biophilia: The financial benefits of incorporating nature in design.
- Cost-Savings of Going Native: A neighborhood’s example of cost-savings in Indiana from the Hamilton County Urban Conservation Association. (2 pages)
For more information on the Nature Connections program, contact Megan Muehlenbruch.
Follow us on Facebook where we share upcoming program information, tips and tricks for engaging with nature and adding biodiversity, and also share local, relevant events in our community.