Strategic Plan 2018-2022

The Nature Forward sets ambitious goals for our mission work by establishing and adhering to a Five-Year Strategic Plan.

Conservation and Restoration Programs

Nature Forward aims to connect people in the Washington, DC, region with nature, especially as the population of this metro region continues to grow, urban density intensifies, and development sprawls outwards. When natural habitats degrade and fragment, threatening native wildlife, the connections between people and nature are stressed or lost. Given NF’s physical presence on the boundaries of high-density growth, plus our expertise in native wildlife, clean water, and land protection policies, NF will play a leading role in protecting habitats and strengthening the connection between people and nature.


• Conserve special natural places in the DC region including our region’s stream valley corridors—the last remaining wild places in the region—as well as Woodend Nature Sanctuary, and Rust Nature Sanctuary;

• Work to reduce the severity of climate change with local mitigation, particularly natural solutions, in response to this global crisis;

• Model conservation stewardship by restoring Woodend Nature Sanctuary to inspire residents to steward local landscapes that provide habitats for native species, and to improve climate resilience and water quality;

• Advocate for effective implementation of local and regional policies that support biodiversity, assure healthy native habitats for wildlife and healthy neighborhoods for people, and protect and restore stream valley corridors while planning for an evolving future;

• Expand and empower the cadre of residents who are effective advocates for conservation, and continue to partner with other organizations to increase our impact;

• Work to protect people and wildlife in the DC region as we prepare for and adapt to climate change; and

• Increase the effectiveness of NF’s community scientists by communicating their results broadly to residents and decision-makers in the DC region.

Download the Strategic Plan here

Education Programs

Residents of the busy DC metro region experience many pressures that cut them off from nature, including traffic, time constraints, shrinking green space, and their ever‐expanding engagement with technology. A gulf is widening between people and the natural world. Nature Forward’s education programs seek to shrink that divide by providing outstanding opportunities for people of all ages to reconnect with the environment and with themselves to gain the benefits of embracing nature in our hectic lives.



• Expand our adult education program to help more people become environmentally literate champions of native habitats and wildlife in the DC metro region;

• Increase outreach to new and diverse adult audiences who will enjoy, learn about, and be inspired to protect nature; and

• Offer adult programming in new venues, both geographical and digital, to reach adult learners from across the Washington, DC region.



• Create, use, and share the highest standards for early childhood nature‐based education;

• Provide a Play Space in the Woods at Woodend Sanctuary to welcome children, families, and teachers to connect with nature in a fun and inviting place;

• Offer new opportunities for children of all backgrounds to experience NF out‐of‐school educational programs; and

• Expand NF’s status as a valued partner for systemic environmental education in public school systems in the DC region.

Download the Strategic Plan here

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility

The Nature Forward (NF) as an organization strives to be a model of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility in all ways feasible for us.

Inclusion at NF means fostering an environment where everyone feels welcomed, respected and is invited to participate in the organization’s activities, including decision-making.

Diversity at NF means the organization reflects the full representation and participation of all identities and experiences including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, color (defined as skin color, separate from race), nationality, ancestry, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, origin, education, family status, marital status, religious beliefs, language, and abilities.

Equity at NF means the fair allocation of resources and just treatment of all people and partners who participate in our programs and operations.

Accessibility at NF means the thoughtful and intentional removal of barriers and creation of pathways that allow for participation in NF programs and operations.

As the population of the Washington, DC region has become increasingly diverse, the opportunity to add new voices, viewpoints, and experiences to the work of Nature Forward has grown. As a result, NF aims to better reflect the rich diversity of our region in the composition of our members, staff, board, volunteers, and program participants.


• Model diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion as best practices for the region’s environmental community;

• Equip the organization to make progress every year toward diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion goals;

• Open pathways and reduce barriers to engage new partners, people, and communities in the environmental education and advocacy work of NF; and

• Retain new stakeholders as active participants in the NF community.

Download the Strategic Plan here

Membership, Development and Engagement

Today, people support causes in vastly different ways than people did when Nature Forward was founded in the 19th century, when supporters paid dues, became members, and donated their time to a cause. NF recognizes that to expand our support base today, we must engage people in ways and through channels that are meaningful to them.


• Create and maintain a new engagement model to identify and grow the number of people who actively support NF over the long term;

• Integrate our internal information systems to more fully engage with our current and future supporters NF; and

• Engage supporters and raise funds for the restoration of Woodend Nature Sanctuary.

Download the Strategic Plan here

Marketing and Communications

To ensure Nature Forward is effectively achieving its mission and connecting people to nature in the DC metro region, it is important to dedicate attention to new channels and types of communication for our outreach. Each new platform of engagement increases the potential for wider, more diverse audiences to learn about and engage with NF and its extensive program and event offerings. As we look to the future, our focus will be to deepen our communications connections with people, partners, and the media in the DC metro region.


• Bring our mission work to the attention of more people of diverse backgrounds;

• Bring our mission work to the attention of more environmental and community partners;

• Support NF program directors in meeting strategic program and revenue goals;

• Support growth of membership and donor rolls; and

• Educate NF stakeholders about marketing and communications strategies.

Download the Strategic Plan here

Operating Principles

•  We routinely evaluate NF’s programs to gauge whether they advance this strategic plan and our mission as effectively as possible.

•  We engage in thoughtful planning, drawing on the expertise of our board of directors, staff, and volunteers, as appropriate, to develop new activities that are scalable and sustainable, and that directly advance this strategic plan and our mission.

•  Working collaboratively extends NF’s reach and impact. To advance our mission, we may join forces with other organizations, communities, and government agencies.

•  We ground all our work in the best available science.

•  Our conservation advocacy focuses on issues that pose a significant threat or confer a significant benefit to habitat in our region.

•  We strive for positive outcomes in our advocacy and consider carefully whether to engage on issues.

•  Our volunteers provide enduring strength to NF, and we actively cultivate them to advance NF’s mission.

Download the Strategic Plan here