Rebooting Our Kids’ Interest in Nature
Jul 30, 2016 07:15PM
By Melissa Moran and Laura Sertic
Kids need nature. Studies by the Children & Nature Network, the Natural Learning Initiative and many others support that children who spend time outside are more creative and are better problem solvers. They’re healthier, more physically fit, more confident, better test takers and less stressed. Re-establishing a connection to nature is vital to the health and well-being of children, their families and their communities. What’s more, we need kids to connect with nature. When they connect with something, they care more about it and are more apt to want to protect it.
To foster healthy children, ready learners and future caretakers for the environment, the Children of Indiana Nature Park was created. The park is one of only 14 signature projects of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission. Bringing together a team of conservation and education organizations, The Nature Conservancy is partnering with Cope Environmental Center, the Indiana Department of Education and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to make the children’s park a reality.
With the Children of Indiana Nature Park, Hoosier students are invited to learn about nature and how to care for the land. This park gives the gift of nature to every K-12 student in Indiana by providing opportunities to claim their own place within it. When a student, teacher or group leader claims their Nature IN-Deed, they receive a certificate with a unique geographical coordinate to their very own place in the park.
Children can claim their Nature- IN Deed and visit their spot in person or virtually via the park’s website, created by The Nature Conservancy. Using their unique geographic coordinates, children can monitor their land from anywhere at any time: today, next week or even five years from now. On the website, young people with deeds will be able to see the park changes that are made to improve the health of the park.
The ultimate goal is for young Hoosiers to build a personal connection with nature that inspires the desire to care for our lands and waters. In addition, the Bicentennial Nature Center Network offers more than 20 nature center locations around Indiana for kids to connect with nature.