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Guest Blogs and Commentary from the New Nature Movement

THE WISDOM OF WATER: Reflections of an Outdoor Educator

By Katie Vogel on Feb 22, 2017

A few years back I worked as a surf instructor, ocean lifeguard, and marine science teacher at YMCA Camp Surf in San Diego. It was a brief stint, just the spring season of  March through May. But it was enough to make a big impact on me. Located on the south end of Silver Strand, San Diego, Camp Surf is a haven for students and staff alike. When you exit the streets of Imperial Beach and enter the gates of YMCA Camp Surf, you feel something wonderful happen to your body, mind, and spirit. On this camp’s property — the marsh, the dunes, the beach, the ocean — I have fond memories of teaching 12-year-olds about the water cycle by building sand castles on the beach and flooding them with buckets of water, or introducing them to the marine ecosystem flora by instructing them to find the biggest piece of kelp they could find and wrap it around their classmates’ shoulders like a feather boa. As instructors, we worked hard to give our students a safe, engaging and unforgettable ocean experience. Here’s a secret of the trade: it’s pretty hard to mess up a positive ocean experience. Just set up rules […]  

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Seven Cities Activate Strategies to Connect Kids to Nature

By Priya Cook on Feb 15, 2017

“Imagine a city known for excellent environmental education because its parks are natural classroom. As a city, we are creating greater access to nature for all of our younger residents.” -Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mayor Rosalynn Bliss Last year, the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education & Families (IYEF) and the Children & Nature Network (C&NN), selected seven cities: Saint Paul, Minnesota; Madison, Wisconsin; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Providence, Rhode Island; Louisville, Kentucky; Austin, Texas; and San Francisco, California; to participate in the Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN) initiative. The goal of CCCN is to address disparities in children’s opportunities to play, grow, and learn in the outdoors. In November, seven Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN) sites began implementing strategies for connecting children to nature more equitably in their cities. Mayors like Rosalynn Bliss of Grand Rapids, Michigan, seek to restore childhood to the outdoors and commissioned eight months of community dialogue, policy scans, nature-mapping, and network building to inform strategies for action, such as: Developing green schoolyards and enhancing access to nature at public elementary schools and early childcare facilities Connecting to nature through out-of-school time programming Cultivating youth leadership and stewardship Bringing more diverse groups of […]  

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THE REAL NATURE CHANNEL: Time for Kids to Tune In

By Arden Bucklin-Sporer on Feb 02, 2017

Education Outside Corps member with students. When walking through the city, people often ask me “how do you see that?” when I point to a hermit thrush flitting through the tree canopy or tiny swallowtail caterpillars masquerading as bird droppings on the anise plants growing wild in the city. Though I don’t, what I want to respond is … “how do you not see that?” It is, after all, right there in front of us. We are all individually attuned to things around us—design, architecture, technology, cars. I consider myself fortunate that my channel is tuned to nature. It’s been this way since I was a child.  What interested me in the first place? I suppose, like most kids, I loved animals. And animals live in nature. And my closest and most reliable nature was my garden. I was fortunate to have a backyard with an ornamental plum tree that my siblings and I climbed every spring to harvest the hard sour plums, competing for the fruit with flocks of robins. I was also fortunate to have experienced a more or less free-range childhood in San Francisco. It was the 1960s, a time when kids were free from “the schedule” and […]  

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