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OpEPA - Bringing Nature into Learning

Reconnecting children and youth to nature so they can build peaceful and regenerative communities

OpEPA centers on the advancement of nature-based and regenerative education, heritage interpretation, and weaving. Using a holistic approach to learning, we activate students' regenerative capacity by creating integral (academic, emotional, and experiential) learning experiences that allow students to start realizing and embodying their interconnected and interrelated self.

HundrED 2023


HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED Global Collection 2023

HundrED 2022

Web presence






Target group
June 2023
To move forward into a thriving future, we must facilitate learning experiences to fall back in love with nature and flow with life. Bringing nature into education and education out into nature is critical in embracing transformational education. As we deeply connect with nature, we connect with ourselves and others, activating our capacity to come into right relation and flourish.

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

Children are increasingly growing up in a world where nature and wilderness are mostly absent. Education does not empower building a healthy deep relationship with the living system around us. As the planet moves closer to potential ecological and climate collapse, we realize the human-nature disconnect is a crucial aspect affecting our capacity to help the planet heal and regenerate.

What does your innovation look like in practice?

Assume we want to build a future in which all life on the planet can thrive together. In that case, providing children the learning environments to develop a deep and long-lasting relationship with nature. Through this process, they also strengthen their connections with others and themselves. This work has three pillars: re-connect; awaken the naturalist within, and embody action for regeneration.

We provide students access to nature in short to 35-day programs that combine academic knowledge, physical and experiential immersions in nature (awe), and socio-emotional learning. These experiences strengthen the students' capacity for critical systems thinking, empathy with nature, and empowerment for action (change-making).

Incorporating nature as an essential and powerful ally in education and working with a living systems approach facilitates breaking the barriers between humans and nature, allowing students to start exploring "we are nature."

How has it been spreading?

Our work has spread to many educational organizations and schools around Colombia using our approach or parts of it. Last year we reached 13 new cities in the country with our solution. It has also been recognized globally as a successful and innovative project addressing global educational challenges. A +160k GBP project based on our approach is currently being implemented by OpEPA. We continue to develop and move forward with teacher training programs that directly provide teachers with skills and tools in Latin America. Working with ally organizations nationally and internationally, we constantly create resources to share with and stimulate educators and families worldwide, we are leading a global initiative with IUCN and launched the Greening Schoolgrounds Global Action Agenda.

If I want to try it, what should I do?

To start including nature in your programs, allow yourself to deeply reconnect with nature, be inspired by and explore your sense of being and capacity for love. Go outside with your students, share this feeling with them, and allow them to breathe, feel, and be in awe of the magic of nature. Contact us and we will help you with ideas, tools and methodologies you can use or courses you can take.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability

OpEPA gives children the opportunity to connect, understand and interact with nature in a profound way. This innovation combines academic knowledge, physical and experiential immersions in nature, and socio-emotional learning in a holistic way.

HundrED Academy Reviews
The possibility to be supported while creating resources and to get inspired by the range and length of experiences would make it scalable. Moreover, ourdoor education is being promoted and this innovation would set it in nature while discovering it.
This is a great innovation because there is a real need for nurturing connectedness with the environment to build empathy and an awareness that drives young people to make choices that promote a healthy and sustainable future for all.
- Academy member
Academy review results
High Impact
Low Scalability
High Impact
High Scalability
Low Impact
Low Scalability
Low Impact
High Scalability
Read more about our selection process


Launch of Nature Based and Outdoor Education Diploma for educators and teachers. OpEPA & Universidad San Sebastian, Chile https://postgrados.uss.cl/programas/diplomado-en-educacion-basada-en-la-naturaleza-y-al-aire-libre/
Nature Based Education for Regeneration - a pathway forward - Luis Camargo - OpEPA in Cornell University Civic Ecology Lab https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_QD3urbe2M
How nature can play a role in children's wellbeing – BOLD
BOLD - Teachers' Voices Podcast - How nature can play a role in children's wellbeing - a conversation with Luis Camargo (OpEPA) https://bold.expert/how-nature-can-play-a-role-in-childrens-wellbeing/
Luis Camargo (OpEPA) brings nature to the center in the launch of a movement for educational transformation in Colombia: Aprendizaje Inspirador. https://www.eafit.edu.co/noticias/agenciadenoticias/2023/eafit-comfama-y-cosmo-schools-se-unen-en-un-movimiento-transformador-d-la-educacion
Biodivercities Nature-Based Education Network - WISE
WISE AWARDS FINALISTS: Biodivercities Nature-Based Education Network Twelve projects from eleven different countries have been selected as 2023 WISE Awards Finalists for their innovative approach to pressing education issues and positive social impact. This year, 404 projects applied or were nominated. https://www.wise-qatar.org/project/biodivercities-nature-based-education-network/
Learning for Regeneration: The Stepping Stones | eePRO
Learning for Regeneration: The Stepping Stones (Part 3) https://eepro.naaee.org/community/blog/learning-regeneration-steppingstones-3
Education for Regeneration—Why EE Is Natural for Personal Growth and Understanding: Part 2
Education for Regeneration—Why EE Is Natural for Personal Growth and Understanding: Part 2https://naaee.org/eepro/blog/education-regeneration-why-ee-natural
Education for Regeneration - A Nature-Based Approach
Education for Regeneration - A Nature-Based Approach - Part 1https://naaee.org/eepro/blog/education-regeneration-nature-based
Outdoor Classroom and Ecoclub La Cabaña Nature Reserve
On the Colombian Andes, three hours north of Bogotá and near the Iguaque Lagoon where the Muisca world originated, is the La Cabaña Nature Reserve (Arcabuco - Boyacá).Under the auspices of our ally Sumicol, OpEPA has been working with the Arcabuco community during the last three years, building community capacity and facilitating experiences to consolidate a sense of place and interpretative framework for the community to share this magical land as they consolidate productive projects supporting the local economy. Stories of the land and water (Voces del Agua Podcast) shared by communities have helped to build cohesion and bring human-nature relations into the center of the conversation.During the last year, we have focused on enabling the nature Reserve a community learning center where actions for the social and natural well-being of the region are imagined and recognized. OpEPA is also designing and implementing an open-air nature classroom inspired by the fungi kingdom. One of these actions is the Ecoclub made up of young people aged 15 to 20 who have the mission of discovering actions and scenarios in Arcabuco to activate love for nature and regenerative action. This group of youth is preparing to also become hosts within the reserve and facilitate experiences for visitors.
Living Maps
Based on the concept of emotional mapping, OpEPA created with the Red Cerros (which we co-lead), a living maps program for Outdoor Classroom Day (UnitedWay Colombia).This tools was aimed to help parents and educators during COVID-19 virtual schooling to guide students in an exploration of their indoor-outdoor, self-community-nature that allows to awaken empathy and awareness of the intrinsic emotional value of nature in the home, neighbourhood, and city. https://aprendiendoalairelibre.org/resource/mapas-vivos/
Students connected by the mountains of Bogotá
OpEPA is one of the creators of the Cerros de Bogotá School Network (Red de Colegios Cerros de Bogotá). This initiative connects more than 100 public and private schools through the nature of the city.http://www.humboldt.org.co/en/noticias-2/press/itemlist/tag/Cerros%20Orientales
Aprendiendo de ciencia ciudadana y educación basada en la naturaleza - Marymount muy verde | Colegio Marymount Bogotá
Taking into account that in the coming months the forest restoration process will be carried out around the new preschool and primary school building, the Marymount seeks that its forest serve as a pedagogical tool, allowing the entire community to benefit from what nature can offer us.https://marymountbogota.edu.co/aprendiendo-de-ciencia-ciudadana-y-educacion-basada-en-la-naturaleza-marymount-muy-verde/
'Entornos de Aprendizaje que están transformando la educación' con Luis Alberto Camargo
We believe that learning environments are only classrooms, but when we understand that they also have to do with the space, context and teaching culture, we realize that designing these spaces well will allow us to transcend and take education to the next level .In the first Santillana Plus Virtual Forum of the year, we will explore the details of the learning environments that are transforming education, the construction of creative or maker spaces, and the integration of nature within these environments.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmHzGlAoRKU
Conectados a la Tierra desde pequeños - Ruta Maestra
Early education is much more serious than we think. During the first years of life we establish the neural and mental structures that allow us to build solid, meaningful, and deep relationships with others and with nature.https://rutamaestra.santillana.com.co/edicion-29/conectados-a-la-tierra-desde-pequenos/
Liderando el cambio más allá de la sostenibilidad - Ruta Maestra
At a critical time on the planet, where man-made changes are affecting the balance of life systems, the need to accelerate the change of direction is imminent.https://rutamaestra.santillana.com.co/edicion-28/liderando-el-cambio-mas-alla-de-la-sostenibilidad/
Caminando hacia la educación basada en la naturaleza - Ruta Maestra
In this article Luis Alberto Camargo, Executive Director of OPEPA, raises how alternative pedagogies are a powerful tool to achieve strong relationships between human beings and their ecosystem.https://rutamaestra.santillana.com.co/edicion-22/caminando-hacia-la-educacion-basada-en-la-naturaleza/
La OpEPA: Reconección con la tierra
Semana Educación: Special: 40 transforming education.https://especiales.semana.com/transformadores-de-la-educacion/la-opepa.html
Entrevista en la Película Futur simple (espanol)
Salida de la película Futur simple ! OpEPA y School Trotters. https://vimeo.com/491769353
"We need a wave of people who transform this world into a healthy world"
Inspiring conversations are brief interviews with people who are leading the change in education. Some insights from these interviews will be part of the Film "Searching For Superman" for 2021. This time we talk with Luis Alberto Camargo, founder and director of OpEPA (Organization for Education and Environmental Protection), a non-profit organization constituted in Colombia whose work focuses on the development of projects and collaborative social entrepreneurship in order to reconnect children and young people with the Earth to act in an environmentally responsible way.Three years travel around Europe searching for inspiring educational projects and schools to connect people and experiences with the aim of inspiring and growing change makers all over the world:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JEWa-3Y3kg&feature=sharehttps://www.searchingforsuperman.es
Un emprendedor social nos muestra el camino para reconectarnos con la naturaleza.
"Taking care of our environment is taking care of ourselves": Luis Alberto Camargo. A social entrepreneur shows us the way to reconnect with nature.https://cumbre.cesa.edu.co/el-cuidado-de-nuestro-entorno-es-el-cuidado-de-nosotros-mismos/?fbclid=IwAR24fRtCNsII6ZJbSEjiPKjJDOD__HM7plrouhurXuk64eQUjhLkP33FWqI
Educación basada en la naturaleza: aprender lejos de los salones y las ciudades contaminadas
Luis Camargo, social entrepreneur and leader of global change, is a pioneer in an educational method that seeks to generate ecological awareness in children by creating deep links with natural environments. https://plazacapital.co/zona-eco/3859-educacion-basada-en-la-naturaleza-aprender-lejos-de-los-salones-de-clase-y-las-ciudades-contaminadas

Implementation steps

Definition of objectives with the school
Clear articulation of the goals and objectives of the nature-based learning program. Identification of the desired outcomes related to students' perceptions, attitudes, knowledge, and environmental engagement.
Design of curriculum and activities with schools
Design of the curriculum that integrates nature-based learning experiences into the existing educational framework based on the schools' objectives and priorities. Definition of engaging and hands-on activities that promote a deeper connection with nature and environmental understanding of students.
Logistics and resources definition with teachers
Planning of the logistics of implementing the program, including scheduling, location, and necessary resources such as outdoor spaces, educational materials, and equipment.
Teacher Training and Engagement
Implementation of comprehensive training to teachers, focusing on the principles and benefits of nature-based learning, instructional strategies, and facilitation techniques.
Student Enrollment
Implementation of informative sessions with students, parents, and guardians about the nature-based learning program, its goals, and the benefits of participation. Seek of consent from parents or guardians for their child's participation in the program, ensuring they understand the nature of the activities and any potential risks involved.
Student Orientation
Implementation of orientation sessions for students, introducing them to the program, its objectives, and safety guidelines.
Nature-Based Education activities implementation
Implement the curriculum, providing students with regular opportunities for hands-on experiences and immersion in the natural environment. Integrate ecological concepts, environmental issues, and sustainability principles into the learning activities, encouraging students to reflect on their experiences in nature and engage in discussions about the environment, fostering critical thinking and deeper understanding.
Data Collection and Evaluation
Implementation of data collection methods to review and analyze results, and reflect on achievements and lessons learned.

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