30x30 Challenge encourages Penn community to enjoy nature

Eat your lunch in the Penn Law School’s courtyard. Discover new creatures while sitting on a bench at the BioPond. Take a stroll down Locust Walk, through Penn Park, or even over the South Street Bridge.

Spending at least 30 minutes outside every day can be enormously positive for people’s health. Studies show it ups creativity, reduces stress, and even boosts immunity. Still, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, most Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors.

For the third consecutive year, Penn’s Green Campus Partnership is sponsoring the 30x30 Challenge, hoping to encourage faculty and staff at the University to enjoy the outdoors. The challenge is based off a similar initiative created by the David Suzuki Foundation in Canada, with a goal of spending 30 minutes in nature each day for all 30 days of April.

“There are just so many physical and mental benefits that come from getting outside,” says Rebecca Sokol, coordinator of the Sustainability Office. “We hope the program helps the Penn community gain a better appreciation for nature, because, after all, that’s what you need first before you can start taking other actions to make a sustainable change.”

Interested participants that register by Friday, March 25, will receive a Pocket Naturalist Field Guide, either focusing on Pennsylvania trees and wildflowers or Philadelphia birds.

“This gives people ideas of what they could look at or try to find or follow,” Sokol says.

To coincide with 30x30, numerous activities have been planned throughout April, including a kick-off picnic at College Green during lunch on Friday, April 1. Field guides will also be distributed.

Other events include a Campus Ecology Tour on Thursday, April 14, and a Wellness Walk in collaboration with Human Resources and the Center for Public Health Initiatives on Friday, April 29. For more listings, visit the Sustainability Office website.

The website also lists “weekly challenges” for those participating in the program. During the first week, for instance, participants are asked to read outside, snap and post a #natureselfie, and bike or walk somewhere they’ve never been before.

“We hope that 30x30 helps people discover Penn’s amazing campus,” says Sarah Fisher, strategic planner in the Sustainability Office. “We have the benefit of being on such a green campus, which we all should be taking advantage of.”

30x30 Penn