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
Lehigh Gap Nature Center’s Color of Nature program was established in 2012 for the purpose of increasing representation of the Lehigh Valley’s diverse residents within conservation. Through inclusive outreach, the Color of Nature program seeks to actively engage and inspire local communities that have disproportionately lacked access to nature, environmental education, and outdoor recreation. Key to this outreach, the Color of Nature program has trained and employed a team of interns to be environmental leaders who work to strengthen the connections between Lehigh Valley communities and the natural world.
Color of Nature leaders are mentors in their communities and inspire an appreciation for nature and conservation. Through their experiences conducting environmental education and recreation programs, members of the Color of Nature team not only gain knowledge on a variety of science subjects, but they also gain leadership skills as they work to connect youth and adults to nature. The skillsets gained through participation in the Color of Nature program prepare interns for future careers in all fields. For interns who hope to pursue a career in environmental science, conservation, or education, the program provides insights into career paths within those fields.
“[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.