By Wendy Dew
Many children today have a disconnect with nature. Many children have not had the opportunities we had growing up to freely and creatively play outside – running in a field, or tromping through the woods or wading in a stream…
Programs all over the country are popping up to take the lead in getting kids outside in an unstructured, creative play format. One such program in Florida was funded by two Edge of Excellence grants obtained by a local teacher. Funding from the Education Foundation of Sarasota County provided the teacher with the tools to develop interactive nature-based programs for her students. The money covered the cost of binoculars for each student and field guides to watch Florida birds, trees, flowers and butterflies. Thanks to these grants, the teacher was able to obtain additional books for the classroom as well as transportation to local parks. The students truly experienced nature. Their learning experience did not end once they left the parks. The students documented each flower, plant and bird they spotted after identifying them with their field guides.
I remember spending my childhood in the woods watching nature, playing with my friends, and roaming the neighborhood on my bike. I feel kids today are truly missing out on creative play in nature. I think every child should have the opportunity to explore the great outdoors. I think every child should be allowed to develop a sense of place. I think every child should grow up appreciating nature and strive to protect it.
About the author: Wendy Dew is the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for Region 8 in Denver, Colorado.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.