Nature Rx @ Sonoma
Sonoma State University
Sonoma State Campus Nature Rx Program, a project of the President’s Sustainability Advisory Council, is a campus-wide initiative designed to support the health and well-being of the campus community through connection with nature. Extensive research has established the effectiveness of time in nature to support physical health, emotional well-being and cognitive focus. Sonoma State’s campus has an extensive network of campus green spaces, including a Native Plant Garden, Butterfly Garden, trails along the Copeland Creek, and a food-producing organic garden. In addition, Sonoma State stewards three preserves totaling over 4000 acres. Sonoma State Campus Nature Rx provides resources to help the students, staff, faculty, and administrators connect with nature as an integral part of their campus experience.
As our first step, we plan to create self-guided nature connection sites on campus to facilitate quick and accessible nature breaks. We have recently inventoried existing campus nature sites and are in the process of updating interactive campus maps to direct people to these areas. These maps, and QR codes placed at the sites, will provide information on the natural features and suggestions for how to engage with each place.
We are working with the Sonoma State Office of Strategic Communications on the maps, which will incorporate mapping that was already done several years ago but which has not yet been made public. We are planning to work with student interns from departments such as Communications and GEP (Geography, Environmental Studies, and Planning) to create educational materials. Staff and interns from Counseling and Psychological Services, along with faculty and students from the Psychology Department, will create nature awareness and well-being materials for people to engage with at the sites.
In the future, we also plan to provide “nature orientations” to new members of campus (new student orientations, recently hired faculty, administrators, and staff), including optional hikes to the nature connection sites and an online learning page with information about the local bioregion.
*The program is still in its planning phases, but progress is being made!