Fostering a Lifelong Fascination with Nature

By Giving List Staff   |   November 26, 2022
NatureTrack gives students the opportunity to learn outdoors, where learning comes alive. But more than that, students receive the health and wellness benefits nature offers. Students and NatureTrack volunteers return from the trips happier and healthier! (Photo: John Evarts)

There’s a new crisis in our midst: kids spending too much time indoors and online. There’s even a name for the condition – Nature Deficit Disorder. 

Coined by journalist and author Richard Louv, the need to connect our children with the great outdoors became even more pronounced during and after the pandemic. The average American child today spends less than ten minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play but over seven hours a day in front of a screen, according to Stanford Health News. 

According to a 2019 study by Aarhus University, kids who had grown up around the lowest levels of vegetation had up to a 50% higher risk of developing a psychiatric disorder. These children were also at higher risk for mood disorders and substance abuse. Mounting evidence from dozens of researchers shows that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human well-being.

Kids simply have to get back out into nature.

NatureTrack provides Freedom Trax at no cost to wheelchair users so they too can enjoy being on trails and beaches, exploring and enjoying nature. If participants cannot use the joystick independently, as seen above, it’s easy for someone to walk along and operate it for them.

And that’s exactly what NatureTrack, a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit, does. Founded in 2011 by Sue Eisaguirre, NatureTrack is every school-age child’s invitation to get out into the natural world. 

The organization takes kindergarten through 12th-grade students on docent-led outdoor field trips ranging from hiking local trails, to spending time in oak woodlands and coastal sage scrub, to exploring beaches and botanical gardens, and other local ecosystems. Direct communication with teachers ensures each field trip will supplement in-classroom learning. NatureTrack docents lead small groups and share their enthusiasm and love of the outdoors as they engage the kids in a variety of fun and educational activities while on the trails or beaches. And every field trip, including transportation, is completely free.

“The students are finding out just how FUN nature can be, and at the same time, learning,” Eisaguirre says. “Fostering a fascination with nature is our overarching goal. We’re creating stewards of our natural resources. They’ll want to protect what they now understand and enjoy.”

To date, the nonprofit and its 100 dedicated volunteer docents have taken more than 30,000 students on field trips. And no volunteer, teacher, or student is left behind as NatureTrack also offers Freedom Trax for wheelchair users or others with mobility disabilities. By attaching Freedom Trax to their manual wheelchair, all types of terrain are now accessible to them. They can traverse beach sand and rocky trails with their classmates, colleagues, and fellow docents.

“Most of my students have never been on a hike and marveled at all they experienced during their NatureTrack field trip… Without NatureTrack, these students would not get the opportunity to gain new insights and experiences such as these,” says Anna Mudge, a math and science teacher at Maple High School, in a letter she wrote praising NatureTrack to the California Coastal Commission.

NatureTrack is determined to continue nurturing kids by taking them out into nature.



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(805) 886-2047
Founder & Executive Director: Sue Eisaguirre


NatureTrack is a 501(c)3 non-profit whose mission is to provide outdoor field trips for school-aged children at no cost to the schools or students.

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s director of development and/or Executive Director.

NatureTrack aims to provide inclusion, access, and opportunities to individuals who may not have had the chance to experience outdoor activities that were once deemed ‘inaccessible.’ Thanks to the Freedom Trax device, people like myself can now explore beaches and walking trails and connect with nature. Additionally, I have become a volunteer docent for NatureTrack and can lead trips to give back to this incredible organization.
Don Chan, NatureTrack Volunteer Docent

Giving Everyone Access to Nature

Transportation is NatureTrack’s largest cost, and it keeps rising. Your donations help fund field trips and provide more Freedom Trax devices.

$7,500 covers a field trip for 100 students.

$6,500 buys a new Freedom Trax device.

Any donation amount is appreciated to support our mission. Field trips fill up fast each year, highlighting our need for more volunteers. Docents play a crucial role with a 5-to-1 student-to-docent ratio. Your contribution, whether financial or as a volunteer, has a meaningful impact. Please donate or volunteer today, or both!

Key Supporters

Audacious Foundation
Adams Legacy Foundation
Coastal Ranches Conservancy
Craig H. Neilsen Foundation
Hutton Parker Foundation
Mark and Dorothy Smith
Family Foundation
Natalie Orfalea Foundation
Towbes Foundation
Santa Ynez Valley Foundation
Santa Ynez Valley Youth Rec