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The Michigan Children & Nature Coalition


Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI), in partnership with the Children and Nature Network (C&NN), is developing and implementing a sustained initiative to increase youth access to, and engagement with, nature and related programming throughout Michigan. This multi-year initiative will lead to increased funding and supportive state-level policies conducive to thriving, equitable children and nature connections at school, in the community, and beyond.  The initiative will also increase statewide collaboration and engagement around critical practices, programs, and infrastructure that support sustained youth access to nature, such as through green schoolyards, Pre-K-12 teaching and learning pathways, other formal and nonformal learning structures and program, early childhood learning, nature-based play, outdoor recreation, and more.


  1. Develop and regularly convene a statewide network of relevant parties to increase peer learning, resource exchange, and collaborative action around issues of connecting children and nature (green schoolyards, green stormwater infrastructure, Pre-K-16 learning pathways, nature-based play, etc.). The network will engage with and benefit diverse entities throughout the state associated with connecting children and nature, to include statewide and regional organizations, schools and districts, early learning and childcare centers, tribal leaders, state agency leaders, and community partners.
  2. Develop and coordinate a statewide coalition of invested parties to accelerate systemic change in Michigan that advances youth access to, and engagement with, nature. The primary functions of the coalition will be to identify and develop relevant policy priorities and/or advocacy opportunities, especially at the state level, and to guide member participation and collective action.

Initial Coalition Goals for 2024-25

  • Develop diverse and representative teams to collaboratively inform and lead the efforts of the network and coalition
  • Increase equitable access to resources, funding, training, and support related to youth engagement with nature
  • Ensure youth voice and choice informs the work of the coalition and related statewide policy, funding, and other support measures
  • Offer monthly peer learning and networking touchpoints (virtual and in-person)
  • Convene stakeholders for an in-person gathering in summer 2024
  • Increase real-world relevance and impacts of K-12 teaching and learning by connecting to nature-based issues, such as climate resilience, environmental justice, place-based stewardship education, and healthy lifestyles
  • Develop and adopt an initial state legislative agenda for the 2025 session
  • Generate awareness, engagement, and action leading up to and throughout the 2025 session related to the coalition’s agenda

Some other statewide children & nature policy-focused work and outcome examples

NAAEE’s State Environmental Literacy Plans Guide

NCEL Youth Outdoor Policy Playbook

NCEL Outdoor Engagement Guide / Map

Texas Children in Nature Network

Oregon Statewide Outdoor School Program


Georgia Outdoor Learning Study Committee Report


To get involved, please email coalition@greatlakesstewardship.org, and join the coalition’s online community hub here.