We believe in inclusion; that connecting people of diverse backgrounds and ages with nature is necessary both for cultivating and sustaining support and leadership for conservation, and also for sustaining healthy lifestyles. (Lehigh Gap Nature Center Strategic Plan, 2017-21)
About the Color of Nature Initiative
Each year Lehigh Gap Nature Center’s Color of Nature
initiative employs a team of students from the Lehigh Valley’s diverse, urban communities to be environmental leaders within and beyond their communities. This initiative was established for the sole purpose of making the conservation field more inclusive. Simply put, we believe nature should be enjoyed and valued by everyone. And, in order to inspire everyone to enjoy and protect natural resources, we must make nature accessible to all communities. Since 2012, the Color of Nature initiative has been working to do just that – both by making nature more accessible to urban communities and by providing job shadowing and employment opportunities in the conservation field for urban residents.
Color of Nature leaders are mentors in their communities and inspire people of all languages and cultures to appreciate nature and support conservation. Through their experiences conducting environmental education and recreation programs, members of the Color of Nature team not only gain knowledge of environmental science and conservation, they also gain leadership skills as they work to introduce hundreds of youth and adults to nature. The skillsets gained through participation in the Color of Nature program prepare students for future careers in all fields. For students who hope to pursue a career in environmental science, conservation, or education, the program provides insight into career paths within the conservation field.
“[The Color of Nature program] has allowed me to grow and learn things about myself that I didn’t even know I was capable of. We have impacted the Allentown community one school at a time; working with kids and seeing their happy faces is something that we take pride in. We are working towards a better future. Starting with the kids is key. I have loved each and every step of the way, and will always be a part of the Color of Nature team no matter where I go.” (Darien Rivera, Color of Nature Leader)
Color of Nature Accomplishments
- Outreach to over 10,000 youth and adults through bilingual school programs, camps, and other educational activities
- Construction of native habitat gardens at urban residences, schools, and parks
- Maintenance of Lehigh Gap Wildlife Refuge trails and native habitat gardens
- Construction of Chimney Swift tower and riparian trail, plus other conservation work at LGNC
- Education partnerships with the following organizations and agencies:
- Communities in Schools of the Lehigh Valley
- Community Bike Works
- Daybreak Outreach Center
- Northern Lehigh Recreation Authority
- Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (Beltzville State Park, Nockamixon State Park, and Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center)
- Stephen’s Community Center
- Wildlands Conservancy
Color of Nature in the news! The Morning Call published an article on the Color of Nature program and LGNC’s Conservation Leadership Academy in 2015. Click here to read the article!
This project was completed in partnership with the Lehigh Valley Greenways Conservation Landscape. Funding was provided in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation, Environmental Stewardship Fund, administered by Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Inc.
Other ongoing support for the Color of Nature program is provided by Air Products Foundation, The Century Fund, The Fowler Family Foundation, and PPL.