Urban Study Centers

Educating Children Where
They Live

As the leader in environmental education in Israel, SPNI operates a network of 11 Urban Field Study Centers (“Malashim” in Hebrew) primarily serving development towns with limited social services, whose populations face difficulties such as unemployment and poverty. Staffing each center are a director and between 2-10 ten counselors, comprised mostly of army volunteers.

Over the past three decades, Malashim have become a vital part of local educational and extra-curricular programming. A sampling of activities that occur through the Malashim include:


  • Formal educational programs in each school, providing environmental activities for all grade levels.
  • Informal educational and community programs, including lectures and trips.
  • Ongoing volunteer work in local clubs and day care programs.
  • Nature clubs for the lower grades and orienteering courses for the upper grades.
  • Within their community service activities, Malashim operate programs for senior citizens’, women’s and special education clubs, including those for the blind and deaf.

The Malashim’s long-term objectives are to connect children and adults to their town and regional environment, increase public awareness of environmental issues, and develop local environmental leadership.

Recently, four Malashim were closed due to lack of funding. SPNI is working diligently to re-open these Malashim, keep the current ones operational, and hopes to reach out to additional low-income communities who have requested Urban Field Study Centers for their towns.