Engaging Younger Generations Outdoors in Nature

As today’s youth seem to have their noses in their devices, many wonder how we can effectively engage younger generations in nature and bring awareness to some pressing environmental issues that they will undeniably inherit. Organizations like the National Wildlife Federation, along with beekeepers and environmentalists around the globe, are looking for ways to educate children and get the outdoors to learn about the environment and its crucial balance.

Big Goals Equal Big Results

Organizations have set high goals to get more children and teens outside to experience the outdoors. Setting goals holds educators and those with the knowledge accountable and drives a continued effort to bring necessary awareness. Increased time outdoors will create healthier minds and connect young people to the natural environment. Let's face it: if the only thing children know about is the brick and element world of Minecraft, how can they recognize the beauty and relevance of the outdoors? Several efforts are being implemented and encouraged in the home, at schools, camps, and parks to raise awareness among younger generations. Setting goals to connect 21 million American children to the outdoors and nature within three years seems like a big goal, but big goals yield big results.

The Green Hour Organization

The Green Hour initiative is based on research by the Academy of America Pediatrics on the immense value of health through regular creative play and being outdoors in nature. The Green Hour’s purpose is to have children spend one hour a day outdoors in some capacity so they can connect with nature in a positive way. Companies like L.L. Bean have partnered with Green Hour to provide thoughtful and planned outdoor activities that give families and educators easy and fun ways to spend time outdoors. The current program offers weekly activities that connect children with nature. Activities may be visiting a local beekeeper, making a nature notebook, finding and identifying leaves and insects in nature, and getting creative in new and engaging ways. The possibilities are endless.

Making Natural Connections to Nature

Collective efforts and investment of time will make nature a regular part of young people's lives. Intentional programs initiated by schools, childcare centers, parks, and environmentalist groups create sustainable interest in problem-solving environmental issues we face today. Instead of sheltering young people from pressing ecological concerns, let them embrace the problems and begin to problem-solve as they learn about the outdoors. Learning and playing outdoors has immense value, and tree planting in educational institutions has become an annual event for many districts as part of Arbor Day appreciation. Educating young people about pollinators and their critical role in food production makes bees, birds, and butterflies much more essential to protect. Young children connect with living things as they see its relevance to their own lives and future.

School administrators, teachers, and families have free access to curriculum, videos, and lesson plans that help them connect young people with nature.

Improved Health Through Time Outdoors

The mass movement to indoor activities has been exponential in the last decade. Less time outside has been shown to increase the risk of depression, obesity, and growing health care costs. Younger generations are also at greater risk of declining social skills, compassion, and creativity. Making connections between younger generations and nature raises awareness and accountability for the condition and health of the environment. Time outdoors allows children to learn, imagine, create, and diversify their learning experiences. Studies show that young people who spend time outdoors care more for the environment and current issues. Focusing on things like declining bee populations results in less aggression during classroom time, and young people can concentrate better after spending time outside.

When young people only know about the environment through textbook paragraphs, how can they be expected to connect and consider it essential? Only through time outside in nature and engaging activities will future generations begin to problem solve and take active roles in helping protect the environment and its inhabitants. Young people who have never had the chance to observe bees in their natural habitat can’t see why their declining numbers are relevant to their lives. A visit to a local beekeeper or an activity that educates and inspires students about bees and other pollinators is an easy transition from something they consider unrelatable to something relevant.

children in nature caring for bees and environment
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