Recent Studies/Findings

Documentation of Nature-Based Programs
at Green Chimneys

Phase I of joint research between Green Chimneys and University of Denver Institute for Human-Animal Connection to study the impact of Green Chimneys’ unique farm programs on outcomes for the students who attend Green Chimneys School.

This documentation report was developed through a multi-phase process and represents a qualitative examination of the impacts of Green Chimneys’ farm and nature-based programs from the perspective of the teaching staff

The research team from The Institute for Human-Animal Connection – comprised of research staff, graduate-level social work students, and external partners and colleagues – first conducted a comprehensive review of the relevant research literature to evaluate the impact of nature-based interventions on the social-emotional learning and positive youth development of children and adolescents with psycho-social and special education needs.

A cornerstone of this process was to underscore the importance of actively ensuring animal welfare and environmental sustainability in nature-based interventions designed primarily to improve human health and development.

Research team members then directly observed Green Chimneys’ programming to gain further understanding of the diverse nature-based interventions offered to students and their apparent effects. Semi-structured interviews with over 100 Green Chimneys staff members were conducted across the farm, school, clinical, and residential life departments.

Journal Article:

Human-Animal-Environment Interactions as a Context for Child and Adolescent Growth

This study is the first in a series of qualitative studies, and focused on describing the essence and nature of special education teachers’ lived experiences in incorporating nature-based interventions as a tool to improve youth social-emotional learning outcomes and promote positive youth development. Almost universally, teaching staff perceive nature-based interventions to effect marked improvement in:

  • Prosocial behavior
  • Caregiving and nurturing
  • Connection to animals, plants and humans
  • Curiosity and excitement about learning

While staff acknowledged occasional or temporary challenges and barriers to student participation, overall, the nature-based activities are viewed as an essential component of the Green Chimneys education and treatment model.


Download the full report

In partnership with The Institute for Human-Animal Connection, and as part of The Sam and Myra Ross Institute’s work to advance the field of human-animal interaction through advocacy, education and research, Documentation of Nature-Based Programs at Green Chimneys is available for review.

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