Early Childhood Health Outdoors Expands to New Mexico

County Commissioners Sign Resolution in Support of Nature Play for Children

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The National Wildlife Federation’s Early Childhood Health Outdoors (ECHO) program, in partnership with the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, today announced expansion to the state of New Mexico to bring nature play and learning to even more young children. In addition, the Board of Bernalillo County Commissioners formally signed a resolution to acknowledge the critical importance and need for the ECHO program across New Mexico. 

Outdoor play and active engagement with nature sets the foundation for young children to succeed throughout the rest of their lives. Evidence shows that children with access to quality nature play are more physically active, engage each other and adults more often, show improvements in self-regulation, academic performance, self-confidence, concentration and more. 

Leveraging years of academic research, the ECHO team designs and activates spaces where children and families spend their time. ECHO is led by a team of professional landscape architects and early childhood experts who rethink the traditional, plastic playground to include active pathways, stumps and logs, native plants, earth play and loose parts such as pinecones and rocks. 

The Board of Bernalillo County Commissioners acknowledged the success of the ECHO program in the community and encourages educators, parents and/or guardians and children to get involved in this movement. The resolution formally acknowledges:

  • The ECHO program promotes equitable access to high-quality, natural settings to promote physical activity for children in early childhood development programs
  • Bernalillo County has a high population of undeserved children who would benefit from the program 
  • The New Mexico Wildlife Federation works in partnership with the National Wildlife Federation to develop ECHO program activities in Bernalillo County and elsewhere in New Mexico.
  • The ECHO program strives to engage the entire community to enhance playgrounds and outdoor learning areas to offer children the optimum exposure to the natural world while engaging in psychical activity that promotes psychical health and well being. 

“Having quality outdoor play and learning at child care facilities or with family, friends or neighbors can be one of the only ways kids enjoy nature,” said Sarah Candelaria, New Mexico Wildlife Federation youth program director - ECHO for New Mexico. “We are hitting the ground running to expand this work in New Mexico and are grateful for the support from the Bernalillo County Commissioners. With ECHO, we can ensure all New Mexican children have daily access to nature and experience the many benefits it has to offer.”  

Over the last three years of ECHO’s initial Colorado pilot, the program has directly impacted more than 10,000 young children and provided professional development and training for more than 2,000 early childhood educators and other professionals in the field. With expansion into New Mexico, the ECHO team is eager for even more partnership opportunities and ready to replicate the pilot program’s success. For more information on how to partner or get involved with ECHO in New Mexico, please contact Sarah Candelaria at sarah@nmwildlife.org.



Get Involved

Where We Work

More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

Learn More
Regional Centers and Affiliates