Building Climate Resilient Parks Grantee Feature: Nature Nexus Institute | Cal Parks
Published: September 27, 2022

Nature Nexus Institute’s  Climate Action Youth Network program  aims to dismantle personal and cultural barriers to taking meaningful climate action. Nature Nexus Institute recognizes that community climate resilience is a long-term commitment to building bridges within and among communities. Their program provides BIPOC/Latinx youth with hands-on learning to make measurable inroads to address the climate change challenge at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park and adjacent Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area. 

To help create climate resilient parks, Climate Action Youth Network is focusing on the areas of education, preparedness, and restoration with their Building Climate Resilient Parks grant funding provided by California State Parks Foundation. This program includes a student-run greenhouse and student participants from West Los Angeles Conservation Studies Certificate Program. Students will partake in wildlife surveys and phenology journaling to collect data, observe, and note changes over time. With guidance, student interns will develop plans to restore native habitat in the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park and lead community volunteers in habitat restoration events. During these events they will remove invasive species in the parks to reduce the risk of wildfire ignition and spread, plant native coastal sage scrub that will help to reduce the heat island effect, improve slope stability, and improve air and soil quality through carbon sequestration. 

Strong partnerships are central to building climate resilient parks. The state agency, California State Parks, provides Climate Action Youth Network with access to operate the year-round student-led greenhouse and youth leadership/internship program at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park. In addition, West Los Angeles Community College, which offers a free Conservation Studies program led by Nature Nexus Institute staff, and area high schools that surround the park have been a great resource to recruit student participants for the program. UCLA eco-club and USC Landscape Architect grad students have contributed volunteers to help with parkland habitat restoration as well. Students are able to expand their knowledge-base working with habitat restoration ecologists, gain work experience for job or college applications, and are provided access to a pipeline for possible future employment. 

Learn more about Nature Nexus Institute and their Climate Action Youth Network program here: