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Research Assistant, Health and Nature

Spending time in green spaces provides a number of documented health benefits. It can improve both mental and physical well-being, increase physical activity, decrease anxiety and negative thinking, better cognitive development, improve blood sugar control, decrease high blood pressure, and much more. In response to these benefits, Yale School of the Environment, Fair Haven Community Health Center, Yale Office of Sustainability, and Being Well@Yale, have been exploring ways to increase access and time spent outdoors to improve the health of the Yale community, New Haven community, and beyond.

The work is divided into three complementary tracks:

  1. Park Prescriptions/Clinic Nature and Health. The group is continuing a park prescriptions program in partnership with Parks Rx America and building community partnerships to support keen providers in prescribing nature as well as promote health and nature connections more broadly for patients. You can read this article and visit this website for more on this initiative. [THIS POSITION IS FILLED]
  2. Campus Green Spaces & Network Building. The group is expanding educational materials and programming to help increase knowledge and usage of campus green spaces as well as promoting shared learning with peers and ongoing conversations with key leaders.
  3. Policy & Funding Mechanisms. The group is investigating funding mechanisms, and the policies that guide them, to support nature prescriptions and systems.

We are seeking research assistants (RAs) to help support the goals of this program and the development of the tracks. RAs will be selected to focus on one track and will be expected to work independently. They will also work collaboratively with fellow RAs and supervisors and send bi-weekly updates to all members of the Nature and Health Team.

Park Prescriptions/Clinic Nature and Health RA

Planned responsibilities may include (but are not limited to):

  • Develop and share park prescription resources for providers
  • Create educational resources for patients (in English & Spanish)
  • Expand the N&H network by connecting new providers and research partners, faculty at YSPH, YSM or YSN, to the group and its resources
  • Research ongoing health and nature interventions at other primary care centers and connect with clinical colleagues to collect resources, methods, and best practices.
  • Work with local healthcare organizations to provide education on the benefits of health and nature/park prescriptions, including not limited to Fair Haven Community Health Center, Yale Primary Care Center, Yale Health Plan.  
  • Research and connect with local community groups with support from the Campus and Networking RA
  • Survey or gather information about community members to explore cultural, social, and economic variation within the community and determine what barriers they face, and which initiatives would be more beneficial
  • Support the development of nature prescription programs and partnerships between health care centers and other organizations
  • Collaborate with other Health and Nature RAs to host a virtual event to build momentum around the topic

This position will be managed by Amanda DeCew, APRN, Fair Haven Community Health Center.


Campus Green Spaces and Network Building RA

Planned responsibilities may include (but are not limited to):

  • Network Building
  • Network & build support for initiative through connections provided by group members and RAs and by attending community events to learn from community leaders
  • Develop a network map of interested parties and organizations on campus and in the New Haven area to help develop and track new connections and partnerships
  • Coordinate communications with interested HEIs (Cornell, Penn, Columbia, Ivy+) through the Campus Nature Rx Network
  • Maintain and expand the Parks Rx database with support from the YNHHS RA
  • Collaborate with other Health and Nature RAs to host a virtual event to build momentum around the topic
  • Green Space Programming:  Develop and support Nature and Health programming for Yale students and employees through by:
  • Coordinating campaigns and communications (events, Yale Trail, PWC orientations, etc.) with campus stakeholders
  • Developing/delivering materials for students and employees (e.g. exploring the benefits of encouraging their employees to go outside for breaks, meetings, or lunch)
  • Developing or collecting educational resources that can be shared by patients and providers (guidebooks on outdoor activities and attire)
  • Maintain and expand partnerships with campus health care providers, land-use managers, wellness groups, and others
  • Manage Nature and Health team logistics and communications
  • Maintain and build out the Box folder of resources and documents 

This position will be managed by Amber Garrard, Associate Director of the Yale Office of Sustainability.


Policy & Funding Mechanisms RA

Planned responsibilities may include (but are not limited to):

  • Research & apply for grant funding sources for EPIC integration and larger program initiatives
  • Investigate alternative funding mechanisms (including provider reimbursements and ICD-10 code development, pay for performance systems, community health programs, and other sources) and the policies that define them
  • Develop a white paper evaluating different funding mechanisms and their benefits/constraints for supporting nature-based prescriptions and greenspace maintenance, including:
  • Ways to use funding from grant foundations
  • Funding Community Health Workers and Social Workers through Medicaid
  • Ways to incorporate funding for nature and health initiatives in the Department of Children and Families and Department of Public Health
  • Support awareness campaigns and events to promote fundraising, cleaning, and maintenance of greenspaces
  • Coordinate with New Haven Parks & Rec, URI, Land Trust [Community Alliance for Research Engagement, Innovate Health, Yale Outdoors Club, Office of Economic Development and City Planning] on funding initiatives/ research
  • Collaborate with other Health and Nature RAs to host a virtual event to build momentum around the topic   

This position will be managed by Brad Gentry, FK Weyerhaeuser Professor in the Practice at the Yale School of the Environment and Yale School of Management | Faculty Director, Yale Center for Business and the Environment.