We envision a community that embraces outdoor learning as a method to promote health and well-being among youth and families. We also recognize time in nature to promote long-term stewardship of our ecological, cultural and economic systems.

This community  recognizes the intrinsic value of discovery and wonder in outdoor learning, promoting opportunities for youth, families and educators to learn and grow together in the outdoors.


The GROW Coalition shares ideas and resources for outdoor learning, encourages participation by diverse groups of youth and families, and builds on rich assets that already exist in Greater Madison. We will also work to shape systems and policy in our community to incorporate sustainability as a key component of high-quality education for the 21st century.

Goals and objectives

Short term (1-2 years)

  • Develop a community of practice to integrate outdoor learning into curricula across K-12 edcuation
    • Increase in networking opportunities for those involved in outdoor learning
    • Assess the professional development needs of people who will implement outdoor learning
    • Leverage existing  hunan capital and other community resources for outdoor learning
    • Develop a plan to build professional and lay educator capacity for outdoor learning
  • Increase public understanding of the value of outdoor learning

Long-term (Results)

  • Increase funding, time and resources committed to supporting children and families outdoors
  • Increase innovative partnerships
  • Build community capacity to incorporate outdoor learning into educational offerings
  • Integrate outdoor learning into the business and culture of the Madison Metropolitan School District
  • Identify common interests and build partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Increased community awareness of the value of outdoor education
  • Increased community participation in outdoor learning
  • Reinforce the infrastructure for research and advocacy for sustainability education

Guiding principles

  • Involve youth and families in coalition leadership
  • Model the principles of collaborative leadership
    • Identify common interests
    • Facilitate participation among diverse members of the community, involving people who may not typically become involved or who approach outdoor education in “non-obvious” ways
    • Begin discussions where people are—whether it’s teachers, kids, parents, administrators, or gardeners
    • seek first to understand
  • Assets generated by the coalition should remain in the commons
  • Use creative approaches to engage the community
  • Build on existing community resources, including human capital, existing organizational strengths or partnerships, and physical/infrastructure resources

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