Announcing the 2020 Strategic Plan:

Revised Mission

The Nature Connection is dedicated to eliminating the barriers to getting outside by providing fun, active, and educational outdoor experiences for youth and families in our community.

The Nature Connection believes that every child regardless of privilege deserves to breathe the crisp air on the ski trails of the Grand Mesa, paddle the snowmelt cascading from the mountains and mesas and develop their own personal connection to the natural world. All too often, barriers emerge preventing so many kids from having these formative experiences. Rural communities in Delta and Montrose County do not necessarily face distance barriers as kids can often see mountains, rivers and mesas from their school yard and homes, but instead face varied physical and economic barriers to getting outside.

Vision Statement

All kids and their families, trust The Nature Connection to provide high-quality, ongoing school-based and summer programs that develop outdoor skills, a curiosity for nature and a love for exploring the “best backyard in the world.”

Our Target Population

Who is not being adequately reached through current programs?

  • More families especially those who lack prior background, skills or training in outdoor recreation
  • More partnerships with youth-serving, community organizations.
  • Renewed focus on providing internships and outdoor experiences for youth and families who lack adequate financial resources.
  • More ethnic and cultural diversity in all programs


Our Values

Stewardship: Our programs strive to help children cultivate an ethic to care for the land and protect our local natural resources. Building a culture of environmental stewardship is vital to the sustainability of local ecosystems and our way of life in the rural west.  

Diversity: All people in our community, regardless of race, background, socio-economic status, and family circumstances should be provided with opportunities to experience our local outdoor opportunities and develop a connection to the natural world.

Health: Positive experiences in the outdoors are vital to the health and socio-emotional well-being of youth and adults alike. Playing outside and exposure to outdoor recreation at an early age helps kids develop a connection to nature and results in a healthier, happier and more active community.

Learning: Hands-on outdoor experiences are crucial to helping students learn science, history, language arts and other concepts for students in our community. TNC helps students meet Colorado academic standards and develop a sense of place critical to being an active member of our community.

Pathways: Colorado and especially the Western Slope offers unparalleled opportunities for careers in recreation, natural resource management and other outdoor job opportunities. Our local youth need internships and summer job opportunities in order to learn organizational and management skills to be competitive in the workforce.

Inclusive: Every person needs to develop their own unique connection to nature. Our programs provide one model for local families and children to follow. Each person will uniquely forge their own path in the outdoors depending on their personal background and interests. 

The Nature Connection Strategic Goals 2020-2025

  • Reduce perceived and real barriers for families and kids to actively engage in the outdoors.

  • Broaden, strengthen and diversify the coalition.

  • Elevate the visibility of The Nature Connection.

  • Promote ongoing, cohesive pathways of outdoor experiences for youth in our community.