Why Nature Links?


Testimonials From Program Supporters


By: Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, U.S. Representative from Florida representing Florida’s 27th congressional district
Excerpt (April 29, 2016)
“As a former Florida certified teacher – and a big believer in lifelong learning – I truly appreciate your efforts, especially with respect to enhancing the independent living skills, job readiness, and sense of community for young adults with intellectual disabilities.  Just the range of experiences involved – from culinary arts and technology demonstrations to habitat restoration and gardening – is impressive, and must prove to be highly engaging for your students absolutely breaking new ground in education, and you and your fellow Board Members and staff should be proud of the tremendous difference you are making every day in the lives of many young adults in our community.”


By: Dr. Daniel Armstrong, Professor & Executive Vice Chair, Department of Pediatrics; Director, Mailman Center for Child Development & Dr. Jeffrey Brosco, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics; Associate Director, Mailman Center for Child Development
Excerpt (Jan. 14, 2013)
“Unfortunately, there are few adequate training programs after individuals leave the public school system. There is a gap in programming needs for this population and Nature Links fills this by offering creative job training, positive social interaction, and develop more independent life skills. The value of the unique Nature Links curriculum is that it is focused on jobs in culinary arts, but encompasses the value of great utility including organic gardening…
The unique aspect of the curriculum is its holistic approach…topics on landscapeand culinary arts, health and well being marine studies and weather. Nature Links has forged collaborative relationships with the Miami Culinary Institute, the City of Miami, MDCPS, UM-CARD, Virginia Key and Fairchild Tropical Gardens…
The goals of Nature Links are entirely consistent with our mission, and we are thrilled to support Nature Links’ effort to improve opportunities for young adults with developmental disabilities.
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By: David Lawrence Jr., President of The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation
Excerpts (Jan. 4, 2013)
Every child deserves the opportunity to reach his or her potential. Nature Links is established in that spirit…
Focused on contributing to the lives of young people – with developmental challenges and able to be employed – from 22 to 30 years old. That is a huge vacant space… This work has my full support, and I hope yours.
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By: Dr. Michael Allesandri, Executive Director, Center for Autism & Related Disabilities; Clinical Professor Department of Psychology & Pediatrics, University of Miami & Deborah Chin, Coordinator of Transition & Adult Services at the Center for Autism & Related Disabilities, University of Miami
Excerpts (Jan. 25, 2013)
“Culinary training provided by Nature Links for Lifelong Learning would give these students marketable skills and vastly improve their ability to find employment. Additional instruction in organic gardening, nutrition, and independent living skills round out the curriculum and foster personal, as well as professional growth
Community partnerships will be mutually beneficial, providing learning experiences while also raising awareness and changing the perception of adults with disabilities.”
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By: Dr. Ken Marquard, Facilitator, The Association of Agencies; Director of The MEED Program, Miami-Dade College
Excerpts (Jan. 15, 2013)
“The Association of Agencies (AOA) has been fully supportive of your comprehensive efforts over the last few years to fill in an enormous gap in our community: opportunities for young adults with intellectual disabilities…”
“It is evident th at your program may be the key to find the right opportunity for them to become a working member of the community…”
“What seems to give your program a unique strength is the well-developed foundation that you have already built through the Nature Links/Project Bridge partnerships with Miami-Dade County Public Schools which gave high school students with intellectual disabilities a new lease on educational preparation…”
You have tapped into a growing field that can provide many real job opportunities for students in your program…”
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By: Isaac Prilleltensky, Dean & Professor, University of Miami School of Education & Human Development
This program fills a void in the developmental trajectories of young adults with developmental challenges. An investment in this program can help families and save money to individuals, the city, and the state. I believe that this program can become an exemplary model for others to emulate. I wish the founders, the young people, and all the partners much success in this important social contribution.”
By: Gaston Bustos, PhD LMHC,  The Clinical Director of MACtown
Joseph enjoys the gardening and using the vegetables from the garden.  “I like to plant and then to use to vegetables and to learn about food,” he says.  He also likes Nature Links because he likes the outdoors and learning about the environment.  He adds, “everyone there is so nice.”
Brenden’s favorite activities in Nature Links have to do with the culinary arts.  He enjoys learning about food: ” We use it in different ways and maybe I can get a job working with food one day.  I think what I am learning can be good for when I get a job.  I also like the people at Nature Links.”
Brittany really likes going for the outdoors and the physical activity.  “I like walking on the beach because it is exercise.  I also like it when we do stretching.  And it is really pretty over there.”