Published on December 11, 2020

Connecting People with Nature

Young girl in winter gear examines a leaf by the edge of a lake © Paul Blankman
© Paul Blankman

People who spend a lot of time outdoors have long known the benefits of nature. A quick walk in the woods, a park, or your own neighborhood where you can hear the birds singing, feel the wind blowing, or see the seasons changing creates a feeling of peace and calmness in an otherwise chaotic world. These feelings have borne true in study after study. According to Scientific Reports, spending just two hours in nature every week has proven to make us mentally happier and physically healthier.

As the largest conservation organization in Massachusetts, it is Mass Audubon's responsibility to provide welcoming and accessible places for all people to escape, disconnect, and enjoy. And we do that currently at more than 60 wildlife sanctuaries across the state. But we can—and will—do more.

To kick off the new year and celebrate 125 years of protecting the nature of Massachusetts, we are focusing on making even more of the natural areas we manage available for you to enjoy. We are actively identifying new trails to build at sanctuaries that already welcome visitors and looking to open up more of our sanctuaries that have not yet been prepared for the public to visit.

We're also improving our facilities (indoor and out) to meet the growing needs of the communities surrounding our sanctuaries. Three such projects are underway or just completed and more are in the works. And we're heavily engaged in our Action Agenda process, which will set our goals for the coming years. High on the priority list: conserving more land for classrooms, refuge, and laboratories, and building more community-based partnerships to protect nature and to give more people access to it.

We also know that nature doesn't exist just at a wildlife sanctuary—it's everywhere. And to help kids and kids-at-heart find ways to have fun and explore anywhere at any time, we launched Nature Play Days. See all the fun you can have this winter at

For me, I'm still discovering all of the amazing places to spend time outdoors in Massachusetts. I plan on bundling up to hit the trails at as many sanctuaries as I can (even if it means strapping on snowshoes). I'd love to hear from you about your favorite places to visit and why. Send me a note at [email protected] and perhaps we may even meet on the trails (socially distant, of course).

Until then,

David J. O'Neill