Articles & Special Issues Environment & Social Development

An Analysis of the Educational and Health-Related Benefits of Nature-Based Environmental Education in Low-Income Black and Hispanic Children

Background: Low-income and non-white children experience disparities in health, education, and access to nature. These health disparities are often associated and exacerbated by inequities in the U.S. educational system. Recent research suggests that nature contact may reduce these health and educational disparities for urban low-income populations. Nature-based education (NBE) uses nature contact to inspire curiosity and improve health. This study examines the health and educational outcomes of a 15-week NBE intervention for urban low-income, black and Hispanic children 10–15 years of age.

Methods: Children (n=122) completed a pre-intervention and post-intervention survey that addressed seven science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)-capacity items (leadership, teamwork, science relevance, sustainability relevance, STEM self-efficacy, science interest, and overall STEM capacity) and six widely used health-related quality-of-life (HRQoL) domains (physical health functioning, emotional health functioning, school functioning, social functioning, family functioning, and overall HRQoL). Focus groups with participating students and post-intervention surveys of NBE mentors and teachers explored perceptions of the intervention impact.

Results: There were statistically significant positive changes in STEM capacity and HRQoL for participating students. For example, children’s overall STEM capacity and overall HRQoL scores improved by 44% and 46%, respectively (both p<0.05). Qualitative data highlighted the intervention’s educational and health benefits.

Conclusions: These results support further research quantifying the effects of NBE on STEM capacity and HRQoL in urban, low-income, black and Hispanic children.

Project: Environment and Social Development


Sprague, N., Berrigan, D., & Ekenga, C. C. (2020). An analysis of the educational and health-related benefits of nature-based environmental education in low-income Black and Hispanic children. Health Equity, 4(1), 198–210.