IVN – Nature Education

The ‘Instituut voor Natuureducatie’ (IVN) is an organisation that aims to increase connectedness with nature across all age groups, which is a major predictor for sustainable behaviour and a healthy mental state. Given the unprecedented rate of climate change, and recent COVID-19 lockdown(s), enhancing nature connectedness has never been more important. IVN’s ideology rests on the idea that using nature to inspire people from a young age, creates a lifelong proactive attitude towards the preservation and caring for nature. Additionally, nature exposure can reduce mental health adversities associated with climate anxiety and lockdowns, as researched by a previous group of Tesla students (IVN: Nature & Mental Health, 2021). Although currently IVN reaches a staggering half a million people annually through more than 800 different projects, the ages 18-30 years old are underrepresented in this population. 

A recently developed questionnaire and tool, by Prof. Agnes van den Berg at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG), provides a means of assessing Nature Intelligence (NQ). Embedded in Harvard Professor Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (H. Gardner, 2011), NQ can be described as composing part of a broader intelligence profile. Together with an international team of nature education organisations, funded by Erasmus+, IVN now hopes to incorporate this questionnaire into youth programmes. In doing so, youth programmes can be catered to young people’s needs, thereby stimulating them to go into nature and deepen their connection with nature, indirectly contributing to the improvement of young adult mental health and climate involvement.

Our client has asked us to help with the implementation of this tool in different programs. To realize this, we will first perform further validation of the questionnaire. After questionnaire optimization, we will research how IVN can best leverage the value of this new tool, which programs are most suitable for this and in what way. Additionally, in recognition of the observed lower outreach to 18-30 years olds, we will perform market research to provide a general strategy in increasing outreach to said age group. Amongst the deliverables of this project are statistics of an NQ-tool pilot, software for visualizing individual NQ profiles and advice on fruitful avenues for IVN to take. 

Willemien Zuilhof, Sean van Mil, Niels Boek