Research in Progress

A comprehensive joint research project between Green Chimneys’ special education school/residential treatment center and the University of Denver’s renowned Institute for Human-Animal Connection (IHAC).

Health & Education Impacts of Nature-Based Activities

In early 2017, Green Chimneys and the University of Denver’s Institute for Human-Animal Connection initiated a joint research project to study the impact of Green Chimneys’ unique farm programs on developmental health and education outcomes for the students who attend Green Chimneys School. The goal is to better understand how nature-based activities support the therapeutic and educational needs of students, and how the programs might be made even more effective.

Work began with Denver graduate students observing and documenting daily activities at the Farm & Wildlife Center as part of the development of an innovative research agenda aimed at measuring the impacts of the animal and horticultural programs on students’ success.
The result of this documentation can be viewed here

Currently underway is direct data collection from Green Chimneys staff and students via interviews with staff to get perspectives on how the farm animal and gardening programs support the students’ goals; students are being asked a brief series of questions before and after activities at the farm to assess how they feel about the program or themselves.
Several published articles sharing these perspectives can be viewed here 

Quantitative data will also include observations from classrooms by video recording students to assess their emotions and behaviors before and after programs outside the classroom.

This is a multi-year project under The Sam and Myra Ross Institute, which serves to facilitate understanding and clinical recognition of the significant benefits of nature-based therapies, education and interactions. The Institute seeks to set benchmarks for effective intervention methods and encourage data-driven, evidence-based practices that can be replicated.

All studies conducted have been approved by the University of Denver and Green Chimneys Institutional Review Boards. Parental consent to include children in these studies has been obtained and will be secured for all future work.

interested in exploring a research partnership?

Please contact Institute Director Michael Kaufmann at [email protected].