Dr. Teresa H. Horton Joins NRF's Advisory Council

Dr. Horton stands in front of a hedge and smiles at the camera
Photo courtesy of Dr. Teresa Horton

We are excited to announce that Dr. Teresa (Terry) Horton has joined the NRF Advisory Council. Dr. Horton is an accomplished researcher with a background in evolutionary biology, physiology, ecology, and animal behavior. In her current position as an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at Northwestern University, Dr. Horton investigates the psychological and physiological connections between time in nature and our mental and physical health. She is also the founder of the Nature, Culture, and Human Health Network, which supports relationship-building among people in the Chicago region who are interested in the health benefits of nature. Dr. Horton is passionate about building connections and will be an asset to NRF through her expert perspective on data and research.

Dr. Horton didn’t start her career focused on human connections to nature. Instead, she was trained as a biologist and studied the mechanisms by which animals process environmental signals. In recent years, Dr. Horton started to see lots of messaging about the wellness benefits of public parks and access to greenspace, but she didn’t see a lot of robust data to support those claims. She wanted to provide additional backup to some of the anecdotal evidence and survey-based data that suggested the importance of time in nature for humans. She transitioned her research from models that examined rodent communities to experiments that study human systems.

Dr. Horton stands among shrubs in front of mountains and turns back to look at the camera
Photo courtesy of Dr. Teresa Horton

One area related to nature-based wellness that Dr. Horton is particularly excited about is the potential for more collaboration between K-12 schools and parks and recreation programs. She sees mutual benefits for students who need more time outside, teachers who often need support in lesson planning, and parks that need a broader audience for their programs. She’s looking forward to developing open paths of communication between city parks and school administrations to help support a strong foundation of wellness for young people through accessible daily practices that foster a connection to nature. Her favorite ways to connect on a daily basis are taking her dog for a walk and watching the birds in her backyard.    

With such an impressive resume and passion for driving meaningful change, we are grateful to have Dr. Horton as part of our team. Welcome to NRF!