Linking Hands and Hearts:  Investing in Nature & Education Immersion

This project was funded by a Kittatinny Ridge Conservation Landscape Mini-Grant
Grant Award: $5226
Total Match: $5234
Total Project Cost: $10,460

For more information contact Justine Johnson, Associate Director, Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center:

Kirkridge Retreat & Study Center and Columcille Megalith Park are unique spaces for transformational learning, community building, and gorgeous and important natural habitats on the Kittatinny ridge. Through this project, we were able to invite 257 participants in five countries to participate online to connect their head and hearts in preserving the beauty on the Kittatinny Ridge and in their local environments through four seasonal programs in 2020-2021.

Increased use of natural spaces by day users has led to the need for more education around integrating outdoor activities in to people’s lives and a larger understanding of the need for mutually flourishing relationships between people and the land. While people enjoyed outdoor spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic year, many were under informed in how to connect with and steward the land they so enjoy. Without education, littering, wildfire risk, and flora and fauna deprivation will continue. This project increased people’s engagement with the natural landscape responsibly and lovingly. Through the project, people learned not only about the natural ecology of Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center and Columcille Megalith Park, but also how to be in right relationship with the land through exploration and learning through each season.

Through a series of online sessions, Kirkridge and Columcille were able to expand our community of nature lovers. Our programs were rooted in the seasons, ensuring people knew that natural spaces can be enjoyed beyond summer. Both organizations have natural spaces to learn from and work on. Through facilitated programs, participants can learn through individual and community reflection and sharing of knowledge. Working with participants, we were able to show how our core values of earth care, community building, and deep respect for knowledge translate to individual commitments.

With a total of 257 participants, our four programs were a success! Even with modifications due to COVID-19, we were able to increase access to this information by moving the programs online. With participants across North America and even in three European countries we were able to share unique and varied perspectives of environmental stewardship and ancestral knowledge. As a community, we watched, together, the seasons turn on the Kittatinny Ridge from the safety of our own homes, while still maintain some form of contact and community building. We shared knowledge that could translate not only to loving this specific land, but what participants can do at their own homes, and in their own communities in our current time and beyond.

“Thank you for the engagement about how the refreshment of nature can support us in times of great human struggle: pandemic, racial strife, political unrest.” –Participant, Summer 2020