Nature for Wellness — Education Initiative

In recent years, mental health issues among students have soared, and on the heels of the Covid-19 pandemic, these struggles have only escalated. Education leaders are turning to nature, spurred by the growing body of scientific evidence documenting its abilities to combat stress, lower depression and even help improve attention.

Infusing a green space on campuses can help students heal. Integrating a green space that is intentionally designed to nourish the minds and spirits of students, faculty and staff is where the impact is realized. 

This is where Nature Sacred comes in. For over two decades, we’ve partnered with educational institutions to create healing green spaces, Sacred Places, and the results have been profound. 

What it is

The Nature for Wellness Education Initiative exists to support schools and higher education institutions in their quest to help students improve their mental health through nature. We’ve distilled twenty-five years experience into an actionable process and have assembled a cadre of education-focused Design Advisors to guide the program through. 

What does it look like in action? Let Firesoul Marsha Guenzler-Stevens at the University of Maryland tell you first-hand.



Together, we will work to:

  • Design a healing space intended to uplift the student body — help them press pause, reflect, find solace and renewal
  • Combat stress, depression and anxiety so prevalent on campuses today
  • Infuse a sense of hope — lend perspective and an outlet for expression
  • Offer beauty and repose to young people at a stressful time in their lives. 

Image: Journal entry from the Nature Sacred bench at the University of Maryland. Explore the Gardened Heart (PDF), a research project that delves deeply into years of campus journal entries.

How it works

Based on project needs, Nature Sacred assembles a customized team of Design Advisors and Nature Sacred staff. Each team member brings relevant experience in educational settings — and the Nature Sacred knowledge to lead the program forward. Our efforts are undergirded by ongoing collaborations with our Firesoul Network and DEI Committee leaders. 

Your Nature Sacred team will guide the process through every stage of our process, engineered to:

  • Help manage the process from start to finish — from scope to finished designs.
  • Facilitate discovery and charrette series with internal stakeholders on campus and school community — garnering consensus on goals, vision and design direction
  • Ensure that the design remains community-led, community-centric — and reflective of the Nature Sacred design principles

A Network for Good

By virtue of creating a Sacred Place, as Firesoul, you’re automatically folded into our Nature Sacred Firesoul Network — a nationwide alliance like-minded peers and community leaders. Here, you can:

  • Tap into the collective knowledge of fellow Firesouls from across the country
  • Share ideas, ask questions and collaborate on ways to best serve your school community
  • Get inspired by programming ideas and solutions hatched at other campus-based Sacred Places  
  • Leverage road-tested tools, models and resources already proven to work

Student Insights

A team of researchers analyzed years of journal entries at the Sacred Place at the University of Maryland. As with many projects, this one began with a question: “What are people sharing or experiencing through the journals?” This simple question came to be answered through an engaging and eye-opening process that yielded some insightful results — tapping into the minds, hearts and spirits of a student body in nature. Full PDF can be found here. Enjoy!



Want to learn more?

Let’s connect.

Experience how a community garden helped a city rebuild itself after a devastating tornado.

View the film.

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Just how does nature help us heal?

Explore the Healing Power of Nature Report.

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