Rochester's Nature Initiatives

Maplewood Nature Center- Coming Soon!     

The City of Rochester has committed to the development of an urban nature center at Maplewood Park in order to increase community-wide access to nature. In recognition of this commitment, Mayor Evans has dedicated an existing facility in the City’s Historic Maplewood Park to be the site of the urban nature center.

Located along the Genesee River and adjacent to the historic Maplewood Rose Garden, the Maplewood Nature Center (MNC) will include indoor exhibit and learning space, demonstration gardens, a nature playground and much more. The center will help connect key stakeholders and providers of environmental and nature-based programming from across the community.

If you wish to get involved or support the development of the Maplewood Nature Center, contact Sara Scott, the City's Director of Programs & Park Stewardship, at

nature center

Happier, Healthier, Smarter.  

Investing in the health and happiness of our youth is key to ensuring a future where our community thrives. Improving children’s access to nature can lead to multiple benefits including lifelong patterns of physical activity, healthy eating, improving executive functioning, and increasing family and caregiver bonding.

Nature makes kids healthier.

Kids today spend up to 44 hours per week in front of a screen -- and on average -- less than 10 minutes a day outside. A lack of physical activity has led to serious health problems for many children, putting them on a fast track for a lifetime of chronic disease.

Nature makes kids happier.

Multiple studies show that spending time outdoors, together, strengthens family bonds. And active outdoor families support our city’s parks and outdoor spaces. Spending time in nature reduces stress and anxiety, promotes positive moods, and improves the social functioning of children. Unstructured outdoor recreation provides opportunities to take risks, develop problem solving skills and build self-esteem and sense of agency. And, the greater the amount of nature exposure, the greater the benefits.

Nature makes kids smarter.

When kids learn and play in natural environments, we see improved performance in reading, writing, math, science and social studies. Time in nature also helps kids develop a love of outdoor places and develops a conservation ethic in children. This is critical for the future of our natural resources.

Guided Nature Walks from the Maplewood Nature Center

Starting in spring 2021 we will be offering monthly guided nature walks from the soon to be Maplewood Nature Center! Join the City’s Environmental Education Specialist and special guests for a chance to discover nature with your family. Tour dates TBD.


More on Rochester’s Outdoor and Nature initiatives:

CitiesConnecting Children to Nature (CCCN Rochester) Initiative




OutdoorRecreation for Kids and Adults  

Self-Guided Outdoor Recreation Resources  



Department of Recreation & Human Services
Stephanie Benway, Environmental Education Specialist