2021 Grants Challenge

Nature is in PLAY

Our Nature Is in Play Project aims to connect all Angelenos to the inspiring, energizing, and healing benefits of nature in the city. Nature is in play at all of Los Angeles Audubon’s outdoor and online programs that connect diverse communities to nature walks, community-based science programs, habitat restoration, and nature sketching at schools, neighborhoods, parks and beaches throughout LA County.


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

Central LA

South LA


LAUSD (select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Now more than ever, spending time outdoors in nature is important for both our physical and mental well-being. The benefits of spending time in nature should belong to everyone. Our Nature Is in Play project aims to center equitable access to nature-based opportunities in an effort to support communities in deepening their sense of place and belonging in the great outdoors. Barriers to participation in nature activities include lack of access to safe green space within walking distance, lack of transportation to more distant greenspace, unfamiliarity with how to access greenspaces using public transportation, fear and lack of understanding about plants and wildlife, and not feeling welcome or safe. We believe that when people connect to nature in our city through meaningful, joyful activities, they then seek ways to care for nature in our city. People, habitat, and wildlife all stand to benefit when communities can connect to nature.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

Covid-19 temporarily disrupted LA Audubon's ability to host field trips for school groups, to lead community groups on nature walks, and to host volunteers for habitat restoration events. However, by adopting online learning strategies, such as in-class Zoom sessions for LAUSD students and posting virtual nature tours from parks on social media, we stayed connected to communities and expanded our reach to thousands of people of all ages who are longing for a connection to nature. We hope to resume in-person nature activities soon, but in the meantime, we will create a map-sketchbooklet that highlights key greenspace in the Ballona Creek Watershed, from the uplands of the Baldwin Hills, along the Park to Playa Trail and all the way to the beach. The “Ballona Nature Is in Play” publication will provide information about the watershed, space to sketch nature sightings during self-guided tours, and will include details about how to visit using public transportation. Offered as a download and in print, in English and Spanish, the publication has the potential to connect thousands of people to nature in the Los Angeles Basin, in a safe, self-paced, socially distant way. We will promote the publication via public libraries adjacent to greenspaces we use for our programming and to family groups through our long-established connections with Title 1 schools. When officially safe to do so, we’ll resume our in-person nature programs, including sites featured in the publication.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 500

Indirect Impact: 5,000

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

We envision Los Angeles as a place where all people feel welcome and safe when connecting to nature outdoors; where diverse communities have easy access to green spaces; and where intergenerational learning leads to a life-long interest in enjoying and protecting nature in the city. Our ultimate goal is to spark an interest in the natural world, whether it’s found perched on the powerlines or at a State park or beach.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

LA Audubon’s nature programs have been in play for more than a decade, serving 5,000 students each year primarily from LAUSD schools. Our outdoor programs’ success is measured by the number of participants, student and teacher surveys, and hiring program alumni who have pursued careers in environmental science and education. The program outreach includes areas in historically underserved communities in South Los Angeles such as Baldwin Village, Crenshaw, and Inglewood. These communities suffer from poor air quality, have significant socio-economic needs and a high degree of racial/ethnic health disparity. The Baldwin Hills parklands, in particular, offer an oasis of much-needed green space for the community.

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

LA Audubon is collaborating with three organizations leading small groups in nature activities, and/or including these sites on the “Ballona Nature Is in Play” publication. 1) Exceptional Children's Foundation where children and adults with developmental disabilities meet each week at Kenneth Hahn Park for nature-based activities; 2) Hike to Yoga where LA Audubon leads a pre-Yoga ecology hike up the hill to the top of Kenneth Hahn; and 3) the Westwood Greenway where small groups are led on ecology hikes through the two-acre site straddling the Metro E Line. In addition, our long-standing partnership with CA State Parks and LA County Parks & Rec provides us with unique access to host community events and nature education programs at Baldwin Hills Parklands, Ballona Wetlands, and the beach.

Which of the PLAY metrics will you impact?​

Walking and biking

Access to open space and park facilities

Easy access to a safe park

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

LA is the best place to LEARN

LA is the healthiest place to LIVE