Connecting Youth with Nature

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund
Recipient Type
State Government
Start Date
July 2010
End Date
June 2012
Counties Affected
Project Overview

Trends amongst youth are showing decreasing interest in the nature world and declining involvement in outdoor recreation. Some attribute these changes to increased usage of computers and other technology that compete for the attention of young people. Through this appropriation, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is partnering with several organizations to build on this potential contributing factor as being part of a possible solution by expanding a successfully piloted environmental education program that uses digital photography as a bridge between technology and outdoor experiences. Outdoor nature photography workshops for at least 1,000 teachers and naturalists are being conducted throughout the state that provide guidance on how to use outdoor digital photography to enhance student learning on classroom subjects including math, science, geography, arts, and language arts.

Connecting Youth with Nature has successfully achieved it goals as initially proposed. The working title of the project was changed to the "Digital Photography Bridge to Nature" because there were federal agencies using the name "Connecting Youth with Nature" for other environmental education initiatives. Two statewide coordinators were hired under contract-one for the metropolitan region and one for greater Minnesota. Nine workshop facilitators were hired to deliver 80 Digital Bridge workshops over the course of the project. The kickoff teacher workshop was held on July 10 at Luverne, Minnesota, and was attended by 60 teachers. The keynote speaker was world-reknown National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg who grew up in Luverne, Minnesota.

A total of 40 camera kits of 12 cameras each and several field guides were purchased and assembled with additional funds provided by the Nongame Wildlife Program and the DNR Division of Parks and Trails. Additional cameras were purchased for use on "Photo safari" programs in State Parks.

For the 24 month period from July 10, 2010, through June 30, 2012, a total of 84 teacher workshops were carried out for a total of 1147 teachers. The goal of the project was to present 80 workshops reaching 1000 teachers in two years. In addition to facilitating teacher workshops, project facilitators have also gone into classrooms with teachers and taken the students on "photo safaris". A total of ten photos safaris were carried out with teachers with a total of over 500 students.

Workshop facilitators have been providing the camera kits to teachers so they can carry out their photo safaris after attending Digital Bridge workshops. The Nikon digital cameras selected for this project have been holding up very well to such intensive use. Only ten cameras out of 500 have been damaged beyond repair.

Information on the Digital Photography Bridge to Nature project is available on the DNR website ( Additional publicity on this project has been shared on local and state newspapers, radio, television, and the national Birdwatching magazine.

Project Details
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2010, Chp. 362, Sec. 2, Subd. 08c
Appropriation Language

$160,000 is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources to hold teacher training workshops on the use of digital photography as a tool for learning about nature. The equipment must be provided from other funds.

2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
Street Address
500 Lafayette Rd, Box 25
St. Paul
Zip Code
(651) 259-5104
Administered By
Administered by

500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155

Email the Agency