The Children & Nature Network’s sixth annual Grassroots Gathering, held at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) from August 29–31, was a return to the roots of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Connecting People with Nature priority. Now an integral part of every region and in every Service program, the effort first took hold in 2006 during author Richard Louv’s first visit to NCTC. Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods” and “The Nature Principle” and founder of the Children & Nature Network, awakened the Service directorate to threats faced by today’s youth of “Nature Deficit Disorder” and the importance to conservation’s future of reconnecting children and their families to the natural world.
Over 120 local, regional, state, national, and international leaders of innovative networks and programs filled NCTC’s auditorium and breakout rooms with enthusiastic discussions and visions of ways for children to become healthier, happier, and smarter by being active outdoors in nature. Highlights of this year’s Gathering included tours of NCTC’s new Nature Explore classroom, renowned wildlife artist Robert Bateman’s inspirational talk regarding connecting children with wildlife through observation and art, and the launch of the Natural Leaders Legacy Camp—training a growing movement of millennial leaders. A preconference session focused on the concept, “All Children Need Nature,” and addressed how to broaden participation in nature-based activities and get more children outside.
NCTC continues its on-going partnership with the Children & Nature Network, working with the Service Connecting People with Nature Working Group and the Youth Coordination Team to educate, engage, and employ young people to foster the next generation of conservation leaders.
For an additional perspective of the Grassroots Gathering conference, visit the Sierra Club’s website at: http://sierraclub.typepad.com/missionoutdoors/2012/08/silent-spring-summer-fall-and-winter.html
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September 12, 2012
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