Research and Presentations

"People in industrialized countries may be losing their connection with nature. The Get to Know Program (Get to Know) is a multi-faceted program aimed at encouraging direct connection with nature through a variety of activities (observations of wildlife, hiking, creative arts, and special events), specifically among youth. Three studies assessed the effects of three Get to Know program activities on youth’s implicit connectedness with nature (measured using a computer based game). Participants were youth recruited from southern California schools or youth organizations. Participation in the Get to Know Program’s Creative Arts Contest was associated with increased implicit connectedness with nature." - Dr. Pat Winter, Environmental Education Research Journal. 

Research shows that time spent outdoors offers a wide variety of physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and scholastic benefits for youth. Here you will find information about how art, technology, and outdoor activity intersect and affect the next generation.

The Get to Know Program constantly adapts and enhances our programs in response to current research from across the health and social science fields. We also work directly with leading researchers to conduct on-going formal evaluation of our initiatives, in order to ensure that we are providing young people with effective opportunities to build strong, meaningful personal connections to nature and their neighbours of other species.

If you have a question or would like to contribute an article, abstract, or quotation  to the research page, please email

Formal Evaluation of the Get to Know Program

2010 Get to Know Contest Evaluation

A groundbreaking formal evaluation of the Get to Know Contest was conducted in 2010/2011, led by Dr. Patricia Winter of the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW). Findings indicated that youth who participated in the Get to Know Contest showed a 25% increase in their intrinsic sense of connection to nature. 

2012 International Evaluation 

An international evaluation, led by Dr. Winter and Dr. Sharon McCoubrey of UBC, is currently underway, analyzing participant data from the 2012 Canadian and U.S. Get to Know Contests. Over 6,000 youth entries were received.

More information will be posted here soon.

Recent Presentations

Mary Krupa-Clark and Beverly Forget (Ontario Power Generation): Get to Know Program Presentation at the 26th Annual Wildlife Habitat Council Symposium, Baltimore, MD, November 2014 

Mary Krupa-Clark: Association of Partners for Public Lands (APPL), Albuquerque, New Mexico, February 2014

Mary Krupa-Clark: Arts in Parks National Recreation and Park Association Congress, December 2012 (View Online

Mary Krupa-Clark: Best Practices for Connecting Youth with Nature through the Arts
National Recreation and Park Association Congress, October 2012 (Download as PDF

Mary Krupa-Clark: Best Practices for Connecting Youth with Nature through the ArtsNorth American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) Conference, October 2012 (Download as PDF)

Dr. Pat Winter: Findings from the Get to Know Program Evaluation
Various conferences, 2010-2011 (Download list of presentations as PDF)

OISEAU: Agents of Nature Mobile App Evaluation

An evaluation of the effectiveness of the OISEAU: Agents of Nature Mobile App in Calgary Parks is currently being conducted with researchers Dr. Mark Holder and Maxine Crawford from the University of British Columbia. 

More information will be posted here soon.

Get to Know Certifications

  • Interactive CD was named an authorized learning resource in Alberta
  • Award of Recognition by the British Columbia School Superintendents Association
  • Virtual Hikes and Natural Treasure Programs are certified as learning resources by the California Learning Resource Network

Other Research


  • 2012 Statistics Report published by Stats Canada: Only 7 per cent of school-aged children are getting the recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise, and more than one in four is overweight or obese.
  • 2012 Healthy Active Kids Canada report, released in May, assigned Canadian youth an “F” grade in active play and leisure, finding:
    • 46 per cent of Canadian kids are getting three hours or less of active play each week — including weekends.
    • 63 per cent of kids’ free time after school and on weekends is spent being sedentary.
  • 2012 statistics from the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that young people in the United States spend upwards of 10 hours per day in sedentary screen time. (OISEAU was developed to help inspire to get outdoors and be active, using technology to facilitate exercise and outdoor exploration and learning rather than sedentary passive technology usage, like watching TV.
  • From the 2012 Outdoor Foundation Report: “Introducing outdoor recreation and physical activities early in life has a lasting effect. Among adults who are current outdoor participants, 82 percent report having a physical education class between the ages of six and 12. Forty-five percent of adult outdoor participants took part in outdoor activities from ages six to 12.”
  • A 2012 study published found that youth who spent time outdoors, connecting with natural environments were found to have increased social-relatedness with their peers, increased positive feelings (i.e. enjoyment, fulfillment), and a stronger sense of connectedness and interdependence with others. This study suggests that youth who spend time outdoors are more likely to build stronger, more empathetic and rewarding friendships.
    (S Warber, M Marselle, A Dehudy, and K Irvine "Addressing nature deficit disorder: a mixed methods study of social well-being among young adults attending a wilderness science camp" - BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012; 12(Suppl 1): P377. Published online 2012 June 12.)
  •   According to a study administered by the California Department of Education, youth who participate in environmental education programs in the outdoors can raise their science test scores by 27 percent, and also exhibit: increased self-esteem, increased motivation to learn, better problem-solving skills, and better behavior in class. Youth who are given opportunities to learn in the outdoors are also more likely to show concern for the environment and engage in positive environmental behaviors (e.g., recycling, conserving electricity, etc.) at home. (Effects of Outdoor Education Programs for Children in California. American Institute for Research. 2005.)


"We’ve lost our respect for other species partly because we don’t even know their names. Names matter. Any teacher knows how students value being recognized by name. Hunter-gatherer peoples in the tropical world can identify thousands of species of plants and animals, but the average North American can manage only about ten. Yet the average North American can recognize about a thousand corporate logos."  
- Robert Bateman, from Thinking Like a Mountain, p. 26-27

"Experiencing nature during childhood engenders both curiosity and the passion to learn that reflects a willingness to give and receive information, facts, and ideas. Children's experience of nature provides a source of deep and enduring emotional significance throughout people's lives"
- Dr. Stephen R. Kellert, renowned Yale Researcher and Get to Know Ambassador

"Kids of all ages should have regular opportunities for active play, where they can  let loose, explore, run, climb, crawl and play in parks with friends, like their parents once did…it is shown to improve a child’s  motor function,  creativity, decision-making, problem-solving and social skills."
- Dr. Mark Tremblay, Chief Scientific Officer, Active Healthy Kids Canada

"Every child needs nature. Not just the ones with parents who appreciate nature. Not only those of a certain economic class or culture or set of abilities. Every child. If a child never sees the stars, never has meaningful encounters with other species, never experiences the richness of nature, what happens to that child? ... Research suggests that exposure to the natural world – including nearby nature in cities – helps improve human health, well-being, and intellectual capacity in ways that science is only recently beginning to understand."
- Richard Louv, Author of Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle