Community Programs

Since 1992, The Children’s Nature Institute has focused on bringing environmental education to low income families in Los Angeles. From our offices in the Magnolia Place Family Center we conduct weekly ocean explorer, gardening and reading programs for the community. We offer family walks to the farmers market and even local community gardens. We also host a farm stand from Community Services Unlimited that brings local, seasonal organic foods. We are proud to be working with the Magnolia Place Community Initiative to bring high quality nature education to all children.

Magnolia Community Initiative (MCI) is a ground-breaking model for large scale community mobilization where children, living in the most vulnerable neighborhoods, break all records of success in their education and health milestones and in the nurturing they receive. Its vision is that the 35,000 children and parents residing in MCI’s 500 block catchment area of dense, low-income, multi-ethnic Los Angeles neighborhoods will achieve high success.  The Initiative’s key strategy is to build neighborhood resiliency including, but moving beyond, an integrated service strategy.  The mission is to unite the county, city and community to strengthen individual, family and neighborhood protective factors by increasing social connectedness, community mobilization and access to needed supports and services.  MCI has adopted the Echo Approach, It Takes a Community (ITC) as their core working philosophy, guiding everything from management practices to service delivery. This approach embodies a reflective practice of empathetic communication, building social connectedness, and creating a safe, nurturing environment based on six protective factors through the Strengthening Families Initiative.

In 2010, CNI was invited to join this place-based initiative to address issues tied to school readiness and healthy family functioning and serves as the “green arm” of the Magnolia Place Family Center. To fulfill this vision, in addition to our outreach Nature Discovery Program serving the Greater Los Angeles Area, CNI has developed place-based programs: an array of tailored nature-based programming that supports community engagement, family enrichment and education within the defined catchment area including literacy with our live animals, gardening workshops, urban nature walks, educational classes with our marine touch tank donated by the Natural History Museum, and an additional focus in catchment area schools with our field trips and environmental education in-classroom workshops.

This relocation opened up significant opportunities for CNI to become more deeply invested in bringing awareness about the connection between environmental education, outdoor activity, and healthy lifestyles to parent/child relationships, academic success through early enjoyable learning experiences, development of empathy, and community building.

In 2011, we expanded our impact on the Magnolia Catchment Area by adopting the Science by Nature education model (known as Discovery by Nature in Los Angeles), and we became the lead agency for a growing collaborative of 23 community-based science and environmental education providers to significantly expand learning experiences for children and their families. To learn more about Discovery by Nature, click here.

Every Thursday is an adventure at the Magnolia Place Family Center! From 3:30-5 we have activities for the whole family, usually including nature exploration, live animals, and an arts and crafts project. Throughout the year we also host Neighborhood Nature Walks, heading out from our center to the farmers market or a local community garden.

(Click here to view upcoming CNI programs at our Magnolia Place Family Center: link to calendar)