One of the objectives of the US Fish and Wildlife Service via the refuge system is nature interpretation: getting adults and, especially, children out into nature and learning about it. They hope that with direct experience comes a desire to protect wildlife and its habitat.
It turns out that there are lots of people concerned about children’s lack of engagement with nature in this modern era. Many parents, educators, and health professionals are alarmed at the amount of time children in the US and other modern nations spend indoors mesmerized by video games, computers, smartphones, TV, etc. All that time with sedentary, electronics-mediated pursuits is not seen as physically or mentally healthy.
Recently I’ve run across several interesting illustrations of other programs designed to get kids outdoors. The first is a somewhat lengthy video (Project Wild Thing) about a British man who decided he needed to become nature’s marketer. Equipped with a career in advertising, he launched a campaign to get his own children and others across Britain outside. It turned out the task was not easy, a situation many of us can relate to.
Next I happened upon an amazing program called the Children and Nature Network. The organization evidently grew out to concerns raised in a book titled: Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, by Richard Louv. The organization’s vision statement says:
The Children & Nature Network (C&NN) was created to encourage and support the people and organizations working nationally and internationally to reconnect children with nature. The Network provides a critical link between researchers and individuals, educators and organizations dedicated to children’s health and well-being. C&NN also promotes fundamental institutional change and provides resources for sharing information, strategic initiatives and success stories.
This group has an impressive stock of research papers and resources for parents, teachers, and others wanting to take the initiative to reconnect children with nature. What caught my attention–since the TRNWR Volunteer Naturalists are planning to expand family trail walks to encourage whole families to get out together–is C&NN’s program to create nature clubs for families. In America we organize clubs for everything; why not for nature? They provide a generous “toolkit” to get things started.
All in all, it’s good to know others are on the same track and can offer some opportunities to collaborate.