Nature Heals: Connecting with Nature to Improve Health & Wellness

May 15, 2019, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm


Location:Cornell Botanic Gardens, Nevin Welcome Center, 124 Comstock Knoll Dr., Ithaca, NY


Audience: This workshop is for anyone interested in learning more about the proven, scientific benefits of spending time in nature, but may be of particular interest to academic and public librarians looking to incorporate outdoor activities and wellness into their programming or curriculum.


The Issue: In our contemporary culture, we are increasingly disconnected from our roots in the natural world. The majority of us live in densely populated urban areas and spend more time in front of a screen than in the woods. These significant social changes have contributed to fewer people being intentionally engaged with nature, which appears to be related to a growing number of physical and mental health concerns among college-aged populations. 

Nature Rx programs, focused on encouraging individuals to spend more time exploring outdoors, can be a significant component of a comprehensive wellness program. And recent research indicates that as little as 10 - 15 minutes in nature can result is measurable differences in our physical and psychological markers.


Description: In this presentation, Dr. Rakow will first address the growing mental health crisis in America, and will then explore the science behind the mental health benefits of spending more time in nature, specifically the ways in which such time reduces stress, improves concentration and recall, and can even improve sleeping patterns. He will then outline the simple steps that individuals can take to start their own Nature Rx routine.



1:00 - 2:30: Don's presentation

2:30 - 2:40: Break & FitBit Raffle!

2:40 - 4:00: Tour around Cornell Botanic Gardens













Presenter: Dr. Donald A. Rakow is an associate professor in the Section of Horticulture, School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University. Dr. Rakow served as the Executive Director of Cornell Plantations (now Cornell Botanic Gardens) from 1996 – 2013. He is the co-author with Sharon Lee of 'Public Garden Management' (Wiley & Sons, 2011), and with Ms. Lee and Prof. Meghan Gough of the upcoming 'Public Gardens and Community Revitalization' (Cornell University Press, 2019). Dr. Rakow conducts research and writes on the human benefits of time in nature and directs the Nature Rx@Cornell program and is the co-author of the upcoming text 'Nature Rx: Improving College Student Health.' He is a past recipient of both the Service Award and Award of Merit form the American Public Gardens Association. He and his wife have three grown sons and live in Ithaca, NY.

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