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Nature for Everyone


A walk in the woods, in the desert, or even a city park can boost both your mood and your health — but access to nature isn’t always equal.

Above: Nalini Nadkarni. Banner Photo: Austin Green (right), SRI Post-doc and SBS graduate leads a group “into the woods” Credit: Myra Gerst

A group of scientists, healthcare researchers and community practitioners, including nearly a dozen representatives from the University of Utah, want to change that. In 2022, the group created the Nature and Health Alliance (NHA)—and their movement has support and financial backing from the REI Cooperative Action Fund.

The NHA convened for the first time in person in May for an interdisciplinary planning conference, bringing together some of the brightest minds in the burgeoning field of nature and human health from across the country. The two-day conference focused on creating a shared vision, goals, action items, and a leadership structure for the NHA to enhance understanding of and make more people aware of the health benefits of engaging with nature.

Nalini Nadkarni, PhD, professor emeritus in the University’s School of Biological Sciences, is one of the group’s leaders and facilitated hosting the conference in Salt Lake City.

“This is a group of people whose disciplines have few ‘crosspoints’ because of the siloed nature of academia and our society,” Nadkarni said. “We had hard-core medical researchers conversing with people who do hands-on community work with minority groups, with people who are thinking innovative ways to train the next generation of healthcare workers, and with those working out ways for insurance companies to pay for nature services. The emerging collaborations promise new ways of looking at both human and planetary health .”

Read the full article by Sarah Shebek on @TheU.