Research in Progress

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

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 outcomes for the students who attend Green Chimneys School. The goal is to better understand how nature-based activities support the therapeutic needs of students, and how they 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 design aimed at measuring the impacts of the animal and horticultural programs on students’ success.

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. Quantitative data will also include observations from two 6th grade classrooms by video recording of behaviors and dispositions 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 practices that can be replicated.

interested in exploring a research partnership?

Please contact Green Chimneys Clinical Director Steven Klee, PhD at and Institute Director Michael Kaufmann at