Our Mission & Vision
The Nature Connect mission is to cultivate curiosity, compassion, and connection with the natural world. In a time where computer and cell phone use is so prevalent, we believe it’s important to get kids unplugged from technology and reconnected with the natural world.
Studies show that time spent in nature increases attention span, ability to concentrate, self- esteem, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Children who spend more time outdoors and participate in cooperative group activities also have healthier relationships with friends and family.
Our vision is to support children to develop an appreciation for each other and the natural world, so that they grow into dedicated leaders and environmental stewards in their communities.
Our programs include exploring outdoors, animal tracking, plant and animal study, nature & sensory awareness, storytelling, edible & medicinal plants, mentorship, empowerment, primitive skills & crafts, and lots of fun and play!
The vision for Nature Connect formed when, Brinkley Hutchings, an environmental advocate who spent her childhood outside, wondered, “Who is going to protect the planet if children don’t have a connection to the outdoors?” Brinkley created Nature Connect in January 2016 to support children to experience a strong bond with the natural world, so they grow into empowered and dedicated environmental stewards.
In April 2016, a group of 20 families joined together for Nature Connect’s first programs in Wilmington, North Carolina. The community’s response was overwhelmingly positive with an 86% participant return rate and since then, the programs have more than doubled in size and duration. We now serve over 50 families and offer year round programs in the Wilmington/Carolina Beach area.
In 2017, Brinkley moved home to coastal Alabama to be with her family and launched Nature Connect Alabama. Kathryn Waple and Britt Carpenter became Co-Directors for Nature Connect NC and continue to work collaboratively with Brinkley to provide quality programming in both of our communities.
"The Nature Connect team is incredible! My child was never one to get dirty or touch slimy things, but that all changed at Nature Connect! She has conquered fears and has gained new curiosities. We are thankful for this lovely program in our community!"
"There has been a huge difference in my child's relationship with nature since doing the program! Lilly has become really interested in going hiking and camping and whenever we are out for walks, she is exploring. She was identifying tracks and animal calls on our trip to Vermont. It's amazing to hear how much she has internalized in just 12 weeks."
"I loved hearing about all the adventures each time I picked up my child from Nature Connect. She enjoyed herself SO much."
"This is a valuable program that your children will cherish... and you will be pleased with all the skills they learn. Here are some of the experiences my children enjoyed during their session: Using a compass to navigate through the woods, physics in action through creating fire by friction, important botany lessons, and lessons in zoology by tracking animals. This is a 'hands-on', real science-in-nature opportunity that you will appreciate."
"This program was the highlight of our fall. My daughter had such an amazing time and gained a tremendous amount of confidence being in nature. The teachers were both so kind, knowledgeable and professional. I never had any concerns about her safety or well being. She can't wait to get the next semester started!!"
"The facilitators brought some great enthusiasm and knowledge and curiosity to this program. My child was never bored and she explored more than ever. I know that she went beyond her comfort zone at times and discovered new joys. Thank you!"
"I just asked my child what she enjoyed about Nature Connect, and she said she loved EVERYTHING, especially meeting all her new friends, and discovering new plants and creatures."
"My child gets to explore the outdoors in all its glory with amazing leaders and friends! She has become more adventurous and confident overall. She has become more observant of her surroundings. This program has been fun for both of us!"
"My son had a BLAST. He was always super excited to go and never wanted it to end :)"