In times of uncertainty, breathing in the fresh morning air on a hike or enjoying the water view at a public park might reinvigorate a sense of belonging. There is little doubt that being outdoors is good for our health, and scientific studies only reinforce these impressions. A meta-analysis of 143 studies in a peer-reviewed journal, Environmental Research, claims that greenspace exposure is associated with wide-ranging health benefits—from statistically significant reductions in high blood pressure, cortisol, and heart rates, to a decrease in incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular mortality. If we take care of our environment, we take care of ourselves.
Nonprofits across the island are working to preserve the land we call home. One of these nonprofits, the Bainbridge Island Parks Foundation, has partnered with the Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District over the past six years to develop over 70 park improvement projects and six miles of new trails. Volunteers have already dedicated 11,000 hours of their time to keep our island beautiful, and the the Parks Foundation committed more than $1 million to park enhancements that benefit us all. Bainbridge Island Land Trust, also a local nonprofit, runs a bold campaign called Stand for the Land, which focuses on safeguarding critical habitat before it disappears. This campaign has helped place down payments on 66 acres—across four properties—of ecologically significant land. Its most recent acquisition is Rockaway Bluff Preserve, an exceptional 35-acre forest lying above Rockaway Beach, which will offer future public access trails and will conserve a mature, intact forest habitat important to wildlife.
Educating the next generation on the care of our land is critical to ensure its sustainability. According to the Fourth National Climate Assessment, conducted by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, there is reason to be concerned about the changes in our environment. According to the report, the “more frequent and intense extreme weather and climate-related events, as well as changes in average climate conditions, are expected to continue to damage infrastructure, ecosystems, and social systems that provide essential benefits to communities.”
Many nonprofits on the island teach children and teenagers about the environment and the benefits of a balanced ecosystem. IslandWood, a nonprofit focused on environmental education for students, gives students hands-on experience with nature and the dangers of climate change. They serve more than 12,000 students every year on Bainbridge Island, Woodinville, and in Seattle, and focus on experiential learning programs to extend learning beyond the classroom and to build awareness for the wellbeing of people and our planet. Friends of the Farms, a nonprofit that supports farms and local food resources, also has an educational component where they partner with the Island School. According to an educator, this program gives them access to a “hands-on laboratory for our students to become engaged citizens.” The Parks Foundation has also funded a program called the Student Conservation Corps (SCoCo) since 2010, which has engaged over a hundred students in restoration of parks and trails across the island. According to one student, “SCoCo was one of the key reasons I became passionate about the environment and conservation… [it] is a great way to learn about human impacts on the environment.”
Ed Moydell, Executive Director of Bloedel Reserve, explains the importance of community in protecting our outdoors. On Bloedel’s home page, he writes “Thanks to [our members and donors], we can continue to meaningfully connect people with nature, something all of us can benefit from now more than ever.” The natural beauty that surrounds us can have a profound impact on our physical and emotional health—and we are thankful we have so many nonprofits focused on preserving it.
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Click on the links below to read about our nonprofits highlighted every week:
Bainbridge Community Foundation supports our local nonprofits by providing analyses of community needs, awarding grants to meet those needs, connecting donors to nonprofits, and encouraging collaboration. BCF also awards grants through its Community Response Fund to support our nonprofits during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. You can learn more by signing up for Bainbridge Community Foundation’s newsletter by emailing [email protected], visiting our website at www.BainbridgeCF.org, or following us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, or #BainbridgeTogether).
To learn more about our local nonprofits that protect our outdoors, click on the links below. If you would like to donate, you can give directly on their website or go through the One Call for All directory.
Bainbridge Island Land Trust: The Bainbridge Island Land Trust’s mission is to preserve and steward the diverse natural environment of Bainbridge Island for the benefit of all. The Land Trust’s work to protect and restore Bainbridge lands and waters is done to honor past generations, preserve a legacy for future generations, and build a network of protected lands resilient to a changing climate.
Bainbridge Island Parks Foundation: The Bainbridge Island Parks Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to improving the Island’s parks and trails and to expanding recreational opportunities. They partner with the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park & Recreation District and other organizations committed to public parks and open space, and focus the interest and enthusiasm of the community to support unfunded parks and trails projects.
Bainbridge Prepares: Bainbridge Prepares is dedicated to supporting our community through communication and awareness, because when everyone is connected and informed, the island thrives. A collaborative blend of individuals, organizations, and local government, Bainbridge Prepares is actively making the island community more resilient through mutual aid among residents.
Bloedel Reserve: Bloedel’s mission is to enrich people’s lives through a premier public garden of natural and designed Pacific Northwest landscapes. Bloedel has a Strolls for Well-Being program that focuses on physical and emotional wellness while connecting with nature.
Friends of the Farms: Preserving our land can also mean protecting its ability to produce food while creating a healthy environment for humans, animals, plants, and insects. Friends of the Farms focuses on supporting local farms, advocating for local food, and engaging our community to create an environment where local agriculture can flourish. One of their programs is supporting a food forest with robust, healthy habitat, including a “snack trail” of native edible plants along trails that can be used by wildlife and walkers.
IslandWood: IslandWood’s mission is to provide exceptional learning experiences and to inspire commitment to environmental and community stewardship. We work toward a future in which all people view themselves as lifelong learners and share an extraordinary bond of stewardship for the environment, for their community, and for each other.
PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap: PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap advocates, educates, and provides direct services to nurture the bond of companionship between pets and their people, for the health and well-being of both.
Peacock Family Services: Peacock’s vision is that the children of North Kitsap County will reach their full potential, nurtured by families and caregivers who feel supported, informed and connected. Peacock Family Services’ mission is to promote the healthy social and emotional development of children by providing nurturing and enriching care and family support.
Puget Sound Restoration Fund: Puget Sound Restoration Fund designs, tests, and spearheads in-water actions to restore Puget Sound’s marine habitats, species, and waters — for people and place. The main focus of their restoration is living marine habitat and species, using structure forming species (Olympia oysters, bull kelp) and habitat enhancing species (pinto abalone). These species form and maintain the living marine architecture that supports the marine ecosystem in Puget Sound and beyond. Restoration of these core elements has ripple effects, restoring function and providing direct and indirect support to fish and marine mammals throughout the food web.
 “The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes.” Environmental Research. Volume 166, October 2018, Pages 628-637 <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935118303323>