2019 Grants Challenge
🎉 Finalist

LA Audubon Urban Nature Network

Urban Nature Network will connect students, families, members of the public to outdoor experiences at parks, beaches & open spaces. The program will also provide thousands of youth (grades 3-12), many from under-served communities, with nature-based field trips and after-school programs. Students will participate in stewardship training as paid interns, leading habitat restoration events that engage their communities and improve the quality of parks and open space for people and wildlife.


Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

West LA College

Exceptional Children’s Foundation

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park

Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area

Ballona Wetlands

Dockweiler and Venice Beach

Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

Established in 1910, Los Angeles Audubon Society (LAAS) has broadened its goals to include education and conservation programs aimed at empowering urban youth and the general public to engage in environmental stewardship. Launched in 1989, LAAS' youth programs were expanded in 2008, serving over 5,000 students each year. LAAS has recruited hundreds of community volunteers and students for habitat restoration and species conservation at parks, beaches and schoolyards. Students participate in public land management meetings (Baldwin Hills Conservancy), assisted CA Parks with volunteer training, and alumni and young staff members attended a nature advocacy day in Sacramento. Within our network, a single student has access to a support structure that could serve them from third grade on through their first few years as a recent college graduate. The network supports students in the pursuit of other endeavors, such as Yosemite Wildlink/Nature Bridge, UC COSMOS, Brown University Environmental Learning Lab, USC Wrigley Marine Science Summer Program, and Cornell Lab of Ornithology Careers and Conservation Workshop. LAAS stays connected to program alumni, providing seasonal employment and internships.

Which of the PLAY metrics will your submission impact?​​

Access to open space and park facilities

Number of children enrolled in afterschool programs

Number of residents with easy access to a “vibrant” park

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?​

Central LA

South LA

City of Los Angeles


How will your project make LA the best place to PLAY?

Urban Nature Network will help make LA the best place to play via nature walks for all ages, bus transportation for under-resourced schools to access nature programs at parks and beaches, and after-school stewardship programs for high school student interns. High school interns will mentor elementary students at parks and schoolyard habitats where intergenerational play is combined with STEM learning.

Locations include:

Ballona Wetlands

(1) “First Saturdays” a monthly event, where people of all ages explore one of the last remaining coastal wetlands. (2) Offer free bus transportation to Title 1 schools for weekly field trips bringing thousands of students and their teachers to view the wetlands up-close.

Kenneth Hahn State Rec. Area

Host monthly nature activities for the Exceptional Children’s Foundation, an organization that serves children and adults with special needs.The ECF Program Instructor says that many ECF clients spend most of their time indoors. Los Angeles Audubon activities provide a rare opportunity for ECF staff and clients to get outside.

Offer public schools a weekly outdoor nature program. Thousands of elementary and middle school students will hike the park led by docents and college interns. The program will pay for bus transportation for under-resourced schools to participate.

Dockweiler & Venice Beach

Led by LA Audubon biologists, hundreds of students and the public will experience the beach in a whole new way during school field trips and nature walks that explore sandy beach ecology and shorebird conservation. The program will pay for bus transportation for under-resourced schools to participate.

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park (BHSO)

Serving 40-50 high school students a year, our after-school and weekend internship program based at BHSO incorporates environmental science research utilizing nature apps/technology, stewardship/leadership training, and art. In addition, students lead hundreds of community volunteers in parkland restoration work, help to maintain two elementary schoolyard habitats, and mentor younger students. Upon graduation, students become part of an alumni network eligible for future paid environmental work opportunities.

Schoolyard Habitat

Students at Politi Elementary and Esperanza Elementary will utilize their outdoor schoolyard habitat as a nature learning lab. Here, LA Audubon worked with students and parents to transform a once degraded area into a thriving outdoor nature lab with habitat for pollinators, birds, lizards, and more. LA Audubon staff and interns continue to provide student mentorship, and help to maintain the habitats. The habitats provide a much needed green space in the heart of the urban core and we are working to develop more schoolyard habitats in the future.

West LA College

LA Audubon staff leads a Conservation Certificate program at WLAC. College interns assist in all of our nature programs serving as mentors and community/park leaders.

In what stage of innovation is this project?​

Expand existing program (expanding and continuing ongoing successful projects)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

We will define our success by the number of people we connect to nature in LA.

Number of high school students engaged in after-school program

Number of students participating in nature field trips

Feedback from students and teachers surveyed re: their nature experience

Number of college interns assisting with nature activities

Number of people who attend our public nature programs

Number of people participating in restoration at beach, park and school events

Number of acres of restored parklands and beaches (amount of trash and weeds removed and the number of native plants planted.)