Outdoors Online: Natural Lands Continues to Connect People with the Outdoors During COVID-19

Mark Hostutler
Image via Natural Lands.

Outdoors Online gives anyone with an Internet connection the opportunity to interact with nature from home. Natural Lands, Greater Philadelphia’s oldest and largest nonprofit land conservation organization, has adapted to the pandemic by bringing nature to everyone’s screen with a series of virtual activities and events. Since launching in April, Outdoors Online has attracted hundreds of participants for a real-time exploration of Natural Lands’ nature preserves and public garden.

Virtual Events

Natural Lands invites attendees to learn about birding, insects, gardening, and more. Recently best-selling author Doug Tallamy attracted hundreds of participants who tuned in for an inspiring online presentation about the importance of using native plant species to support our planet’s ecological health. Upcoming events feature experts from Natural Lands highlighting the wonders of nature.


Trek-a-Thon challenges participants to travel 6,000 miles collectively as a (safe, socially distant) community. Hikers, walkers, joggers, and runners keep track of their miles — either at any of Natural Lands’ nature preserves across the region (which remain open during the pandemic), in their own neighborhood, or even on their home treadmills — and report their progress. Top trekkers receive prizes and boasting rights. Registration is free and sign-ups are ongoing through June 7.

Virtual Plant Sale

Though Stoneleigh remains closed to guests due to COVID-19, Natural Lands is going virtual with its first online plant sale. Shoppers can select from a dazzling variety of native plants in the online shop and choose a pick-up time during check out. Shoppers will stop by Stoneleigh at the pre-arranged time, where staff and volunteers will load their plants into their vehicles without contact.

Moments of Nature

Natural Lands is sharing daily “moments of nature” on social media (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) with photos and videos of its nature preserves. Featuring sweeping landscapes, springtime blooms, and wildlife, these moments provide a window into the serenity of nature. Visitors, volunteers, and staff supply the images of springtime in our region.

Nature at Nine

With years of experience in providing high-quality nature camps for kids, educators at Natural Lands have designed six weeks of educational activities about nature. Each week includes five days of activities that revolve around a theme such as the world of trees, wildflowers, dirt, and nature at night. This free, online educational program is designed to help kids learn, craft, play, and get inspired by the outdoors.