Founded in 2000, the Natural Learning Initiative (NLI) is a research, design assistance, and professional development unit at the College of Design, NC State University, Raleigh, NC. The long-term mission of NLI is “Creating environments for healthy human development and a healthy biosphere for generations to come.” The mission is implemented by engaging children and families with the natural world in the places of daily life (home, school, neighborhood), through participatory environmental design, action research, education, and dissemination of information. A key aim is to create, translate, and apply evidence to changing policies that affect children’s everyday experience in the built environment. To this end, NLI works with systems in child development, schools, parks and recreation, urban planning, public health, and nonformal education (nature centers, botanical gardens, zoos, and museums). NLI works with government, nongovernment, and private sectors in communities across North Carolina, and at national and international levels, including with prominent landscape architecture firms.
Robin C. Moore is Professor of Landscape Architecture, NC State University, and Director of the Natural Learning Initiative. He grew up in the south of England and holds degrees in architecture (London University) and urban planning (MIT). For most of his career, he has worked in the field of landscape architecture as educator, researcher, and consultant. Moore is an international authority on the design of children’s play and learning environments, user needs research, and participatory design in the urban public realm.
Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is America’s largest conservation organization with 49 affiliated organizations and more than four million members. NWF’s mission is to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future. Our award-winning Ranger Rick magazine has brought the wonders of nature to generations of American children, and our Schoolyard Habitats program, begun in 1996, has engaged more than 4,000 schools across the country in the creation and use of outdoor classrooms to help children understand and appreciate the natural world. In 2008, NWF was designated as the U.S. host for the international Eco-Schools program and to date NWF has registered 3,000 K-12 schools in its Eco-Schools USA program which focuses on greening the school grounds, buildings, curriculum and student experience.
Allen Cooper is Director of State Education Advocacy at the National Wildlife Federation where he develops state and municipal policy to connect people with nature. Allen Cooper grew up in southern West Virginia and holds degrees in public policy (Princeton University) and law (University of Texas at Austin).