The following organizations have generously helped promote the ‘Discover the Forest’ public service campaign and it’s effort to re-connect kids with nature. We commend them for their efforts to promote exploration and conservation of our natural environment. Check out the great resources each has to offer.
American Forest Foundation
We live in an era in which more and more children are disconnected from nature. To help combat this nature deficit problem, the American Forest Foundation (AFF) works on the ground with families, teachers, and elected officials to promote conservation stewardship and protect our nation’s forest heritage. A commitment to the next generation unites our nationwide network of forest owners and teachers working to keep our forests healthy and our children well-prepared for the future they will inherit. AFF works with tens of thousands of educators each year, giving them award-winning environmental education curriculum through our Project Learning Tree program.
American Forests encourages people of all ages to get out and enjoy the benefits of forests for recreation, exercise or just the sense of well being that comes from being around trees. The oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the country, American Forests is dedicated to protecting and restoring forests. Since 1990, American Forests has planted nearly 40 million trees in forests throughout the U.S. and beyond, resulting in cleaner air and drinking water, restored habitat for wildlife and fish, and the removal of millions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. And, more places for you and your family to enjoy!
American Recreation Coalition
American Recreation Coalition (ARC) is a Washington-based non-profit organization formed in 1979. Since its inception, ARC has sought to catalyze public/private partnerships to enhance and protect outdoor recreational opportunities and the resources upon which such experiences are based. ARC conducts research, organizes and conducts national conferences and meetings and disseminates information through a variety of newsletters, columns and other media regarding recreational needs and initiatives. ARC also monitors legislative and regulatory proposals that influence recreation and works with government agencies and the U.S. Congress to study public policy issues that will shape future recreational opportunities.
The Children & Nature Network
The Children & Nature Network (C&NN) encourages and supports the people and organizations working nationally and internationally to reconnect every child in every community with nature. The network provides a critical link between researchers, individuals, educators and organizations dedicated to children’s health and well-being. C&NN also provides resources for sharing information, strategic initiatives and success stories.
The C&NN News site offers parents, youth, civic and community leaders, grassroots organizers, natural resource professionals, educators, and health-care providers access to the latest news and research as well as practical advice. The network also engages a diverse community by providing a forum for publishing and presenting research, reports and case studies on children’s health and nature, and related program-development strategies and support. In addition, the network provides a discussion forum for individuals and others interested in the children and nature movement.
Environmental Health Perspectives
Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) is a monthly journal of peer-reviewed research and news published by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Health and Human Services. EHP’s mission is to serve as a forum for the discussion of the interrelationships between the environment and human health by publishing in a balanced and objective manner the best peer-reviewed research and most current and credible news of the field.
Every Kid in a Park
The Every Kid in a Park initiative delivers a nationwide call to action to build the next generation of environmental stewards. This national movement will connect youth with federal lands and waters in innovative ways never before undertaken. Under the direction of President Obama, a priority has been established to connect with today’s kids—not just to engage youngsters in their national heritage, but to meet their needs in a way that few other programs can. The initiative is an Administration-wide effort among the National Park Service, Forest Service, Department of Education, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Please visit www.everykidinapark.gov for further information.
Geocaching, a project operated by Groundspeak, is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. Treasure containers are hidden and maintained by members of the geocaching community, so all you need to get started is a GPS device or a GPS-enabled mobile phone. Visit their website for more information! It is important to check with your local National Forests and Grasslands regarding site specific Geocaching rules and regulations.
In an effort to build the next generation of environmental stewards Kids4Trees works in association with national and local forests, as well as sports and community organizations, to connect 6-12 year-olds with nature and the wild outdoors. They provide FREE environmental education tree-planting programs, materials to schools, and events for 6-12 year old children. Kids4Trees is a national participating partner with the USDA Forest Service and official participant in the UN 2011 Year of Forests.
National Environmental Education Foundation’s Children and Nature Initiative
The Initiative addresses two important issues—preventing serious health conditions like obesity and diabetes, and reconnecting children to nature. Research indicates that unstructured outdoor activities may improve children’s health by increasing physical activity, reducing stress, and serving as a support mechanism for attention disorders.
The Children and Nature Initiative educates pediatric health care providers about prescribing outdoor activities to children. The program also connects health care providers with local nature sites so that they can refer families to safe and easily accessible outdoor areas.
The National Environmental Education Foundation also sponsors a National Public Lands Day program. In addition to being an opportunity for Americans to help care for the public lands we all treasure, focus has also been placed on getting children outdoors to improve physical and mental health.
National Forest Foundation
For today’s youth, diminishing participation in the outdoors carries a host of impacts on them and society – from the decline in kids’ physical health to their diminishing environmental knowledge. This is why the NFF has long included youth-based stewardship within our grant-making and volunteer programs. Based on recent research into existing youth outdoor engagement and education programs, we are now designing an expansion of our youth initiatives. We aim to offer meaningful, educational and just plain fun opportunities for kids to interact with nature in their National Forests. Over the last 10 years, we’ve involved over 11,000 youth in educational and stewardship projects. Our conservation programs engage young people in everything from building trails and restoring watersheds to monitoring wildlands and removing invasive weeds – programs that help kids learn about National Forests, give back to these Treasured Landscapes, and develop a lifelong connection to their public lands.
National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day)
Partners from federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and the recreation industry team up annually to encourage healthy, active outdoor fun for kids and families at events held across the nation. Prime goals of GO Day are to reach currently underserved populations and first-time visitors to public lands, and to reconnect youth to the great outdoors. On Saturday, June 9, 2012, GO Day partners will offer opportunities for American families to experience traditional and non-traditional types of outdoor activities, such as camping, fishing, geo-caching, and more. Many event sites will also feature areas that focus on other aspects of healthy living, including sustainability and good nutrition.
National Wildlife Federation
National Wildlife Federation has worked for nearly 75 years to build awareness and understanding of the natural world. NWFs “Be Out There” campaign addresses the need for parents and other influential adults to make changes to better connect children to nature, improve children’s overall well being through unstructured play and discovery, and to make societal changes to rebuild the next generation of active, healthy and educated environmental stewards.
NWF also manages programs in schools (Reading with Ranger Rick and Schoolyards Habitats), offers programs designed to engage parents (Green Hour, National Wildlife Week and Wildlife Watch), and produces regular special events (Great American Backyard Campout and Hike and Seek) to provide opportunities for communities to give back and learn new skills.
The Natural Inquirer
The mission of the Natural Inquirer program is to inspire the next generation of natural resource scientists and engineers. The Natural Inquirer program works to achieve that mission by providing free, high quality, K-12 science education materials based on science research from the U.S. Forest Service and their cooperators. The products include the Natural Inquirer journal (middle & high school), the Investi-gator (upper elementary school), the Natural Inquirer Reader series (Kindergarten-2nd grade), the NSI: Nature Science Investigator (nonformal, upper elementary & middle school age), “Bee” A Scientist Coloring Book (PreK & up), and the Natural Inquirer scientist cards (upper elementary & up). The products are created through a partnership between the U.S. Forest Service, the Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association, and other partners. Please visit www.naturalinquirer.org to learn more and order your free science education products today!
PBS KIDS Plum Landing
Plum Landing is a PBS KIDS environmental science project from WGBH Boston, which offers families and educators fun and easy activities to get kids outside and connect to nature. Explore their games, activities and videos online at their site!
Parents, you can take your kids on fantastic adventures that help kids develop a love for, and connection to, this amazing and beautiful planet we call home. PBS KIDS Plum Landing offers children ages six to nine and their families a collection of fun and engaging games, apps, videos and hands-on activities, to do online as well as outdoors.
Penn State Better Kid Care
The mission of Penn State’s Better Kid Care Program is to increase the quality of childcare through education and support for childcare professionals. The Better Kid Care Program provides research-based information and offers online professional development to early leaning and school age professionals. The mission of the Better Kid Care Program supports the Forest Service mission to connect children to nature starting during these impressionable early years in that they embrace what research, science, and practice tell us is good for children – and they know that connecting children to nature and the outdoors is good. Supporting opportunities for interaction with the outdoors and nature, along with many other essential topics in caring for children, is important to Better Kid Care. Visit www.betterkidcare.psu.edu to see their online professional development lessons and numerous resources for early learning and school age professionals.
Project Learning Tree
For 35 years, Project Learning Tree (PLT) has been taking kids outside to learn. How? By providing educators with the tools, training, and resources they need to teach core subjects through experiences in nature.
Each year, 30,000 educators attend 1,500 PLT professional development workshops around the country to learn the many ways they can get their students outdoors and learning about nature, while also meeting state and national academic standards. To date, 500,000 educators have turned to PLT for strategies and techniques to teach about topics such as forests, wildlife, water, community planning, recycling, and energy, as part of their everyday lesson plans. Using hands-on, interdisciplinary activities for all grade levels and different learning styles, combined with place-based learning, inquiry-based local investigations, and service-learning projects, PLT helps young people learn how to think, not what to think, about complex environmental issues.
PLT is a program of the American Forest Foundation.
Founded by a community of young Outsiders, Outdoor Nation (ON) is a place for youth to fuel their passion for the outdoors. ON hosts Summits, awards cash prizes for creative ideas, leads outdoor outings, and works to connect youth in an effort to mobilize an outdoor movement that is fun, meaningful and impactful. ON seeks to encourage youth to join together and spend more time outside by organizing local clubs, providing monetary resources for group projects, and helping youth start campaigns advocating for outdoor policies. The organization also holds five summits annually where youth can share experiences and strengthen their connection to the outdoors. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) supports Outdoor Nation in hosting events nationwide. USFS delegates provide mentorship opportunities and are involved in career panels focused upon creating potential pathways into possible careers in natural resource conservation and management.
Since 1989, Trees Forever has been dedicated to helping individuals and communities improve and sustain the places where they live, work, and play. Trees Forever engages their network of thousands of community volunteers to help plant and care for trees, native plants, prairies, and other natural areas. They empower advocates for the environment, educate community and government leaders, collaborate to build partnerships within communities, and promote sound environmental stewardship. In all that they do, Trees Forever strives to enhance and protect the environment for today and for generations to come.
The World Forestry Center
Located in beautiful Portland, Oregon, The Center has both indoor and outdoor fun and educational experiences for the whole family to enjoy. Its Discovery Museum has engaging, interactive exhibits that teach about the world’s forests and environmental sustainability. Visitors can ride the rapids without getting wet, or try their smoke jumping skills! You can also take a video journey to Russia, China, South Africa and Brazil and learn about the people who live there and what forests mean to them. The Center also operates Magness Memorial Tree Farm, located about 25 miles south of Portland. This lush 80-acre park is open to the public with 2.5 miles of hiking trails. Every Sunday at 2:00 there is a free guided tour.
The Wilderness Society
The Wilderness Society is the leading public lands conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 500,000 members and supporters, TWS has led the effort to permanently protect 110 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.