Recent work on the health and well-being benefits of contact with animals and/or plants indicates the natural environment may have significant psychological and physiological effects on health and well-being of children (Wells, 2000; Taylor et al, 1998). These studies demonstrate that children function better cognitively and emotionally in green environments (Taylor et al, 2001; Wells, 2000) and have more creative play in green areas (Taylor et al, 1998). Other work has demonstrated that children have an abiding affiliation with nature, even in economically impoverished urban communities (Taylor et al, 1998; Kahn, 1997). Direct experience of nature could play a significant role in children’s affective, cognitive, and evaluative development (Kellert, 2002), but further study is needed.The literature indicates increasing concern about the lack of time humans, particularly children, spend in outdoor environments (Kellert, 2002; Orr, 2002; Pyle; 2002; Stilgoe, 2001), the increasingly limited opportunities to encounter and interact with the natural world (Orr; 2002; Frumkin, 2001), and the fact that modern society insulates people from outdoor environmental stimuli (Stilgoe, 2001; Simpson, 1994). For children, concerns focus on the detrimental effects on cognitive and emotional development (Kellert, 2002), the paucity of opportunities to develop an ethic of care for the environment and empathy for other living creatures/fellow humans (Kahn, 2002), a lack of understanding about the interconnectedness of all life forms, and many other valuable lessons to be learned from nature (Orr, 2002; Capra, 1997). In Australia, many schools are incorporating nature-based activities into their curricula. Although most programs appear successful, few have been evaluated, particularly in terms of the health-promoting role played by the nature-related elements. This paper will report on preliminary results of a research program investigating the health benefits of contact with nature for primary school children. The potential benefits to the mental health of children from hands-on contact with nature (i.e. those activities that enable children to personally have contact with key elements of nature, such as plants, and animals) via environmental education and/or nature-based programs are investigated in a Western cultural context via urban primary schools in Melbourne, Australia. The aim of this research is to explore the potential of ‘hands-on’ contact with nature, via nature-based environmental education activities encountered during primary schooling, to promote the mental health and well-being of urban Victorian primary school children. Specifically, this study examines nature-based activities such as school gardens and/or those activities run by the environmental education organisations, where children have the opportunity to directly engage with the natural environment. Research Questions include: 1) To describe the extent and type of ‘hands-on’ nature-based programs implemented in urban Victorian primary schools; 2) To determine the perceptions of principals, key staff members, and parents as to the effects on mental health and well-being of children participating in those programs and the effects on the school community as a whole; 3) To determine the health promotion potential of ‘hands-on’ nature-based programs, and the enablers and barriers to the implementation of these programs in urban Victorian primary schools. The research program comprises a survey of primary school principals, detailed case studies, and examination of the literature. Preliminary results from the survey will be presented along with an outline of the later stages of the program (not yet commenced) and an overview of the literature. It is anticipated that findings will be useful for validation of many nature-based programs already initiated by schools, and provide greater incentive to governments, educators, and researchers to develop these programs further.