The ‘Instituut voor Natuureducatie’ (IVN) is an organization that aims to increase connectedness with nature across all age groups, which is a major predictor for sustainable behavior and psychological well-being. Together with an international team of nature education organizations, funded by Erasmus+, IVN wants to enhance their youth programs through incorporating the concept of Nature Intelligence (NQ), which was developed by Prof. Agnes van den Berg at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG). Our team worked with this international team of organizations and Prof. Agnes van den Berg to scientifically validate a recently developed questionnaire and tool to assess Nature Intelligence (NQ). Next to that, we developed a pilot youth education program that incorporates NQ into fieldwork activities. We translated insights from the pilot into design guidelines that employees of IVN can use to create future youth education programs.
More about the project
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 organizations, funded by Erasmus+, IVN now hopes to incorporate this questionnaire into youth programs. In doing so, youth programs 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.