The Secondary Environmental Education Collaborative, a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and the Friends of the High School for Environmental Studies,received endorsement from the National Forum on Children and Nature as one of 30 projects nationwide that demonstrate new and creative ways to reconnect kids with nature.
Since 1995, the Conservancy and its partner have been successfully addressing youth’s disconnect from nature in New York City through a unique partnership that couples environmental curricula in urban nature with paid residential internships on preserves across the Northeast. This partnership has helped underserved urban youth gain critical life and workplace skills; provided continuous and sustained exposure to both rural and urban nature; and helped a diverse array of students pursue higher education opportunities and career paths in environmental fields. The Forum will help support a national initiative connecting environmentally themed high schools with intensive nature based internships.
“I am thrilled that the Forum has chosen this unique program to replicate on a national scale across the country,” says Brigitte Griswold, director of youth programs. “We look forward to connecting an exponentially larger number of urban youth to the nature that sustains us all and fostering a more environmentally-literate citizenry.”
Children have a basic right to a healthy, whole childhood. Despite major advances in medicine, education and other fields, however, kids today are developing chronic health conditions — such as obesity and depression — earlier and more frequently than ever before. Growing evidence links the decline in children’s health, in part, to their disconnect with nature, including less active time outdoors.
Recognizing an urgent need to reconnect kids with nature, The Conservation Fund launched the National Forum on Children and Nature in 2007. The Forum includes 51 dynamic public and private leaders and is chaired by Governors M. Jodi Rell (CT), Edward Rendell (PA), Mark Sanford (SC) and Brian Schweitzer (MT), with honorary co-chair Richard Louv, bestselling author of Last Child in the Woods. The mayors of Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago are Forum members, as are the CEOs of The North Face, REI and the National Audubon Society, among other organizations.
The Forum’s mission is to "elevate the issue of reconnecting children with nature to the highest levels of our national consciousness; connect the fast-growing grass-roots side of this movement to some of the most powerful engines of American society – public, private and nonprofit; and make real for every American—through nationally significant demonstration projects—ways that each of us can help reconnect children with nature."
Over the past year, the Forum received 560 proposals from projects seeking endorsement. Forum advisory panels culled the best ideas for investment in children’s health through nature, particularly in the areas of education, technology and community. Ultimately, the Forum endorsed 30 projects, based on their relevance, impact and sustainability. The Secondary Environmental Education Collaborative is one of these 30.
“The National Forum on Children and Nature proudly endorses The Secondary Environmental Education Collaborative for its vision, creativity and commitment to the well-being of future generations,” says Larry Selzer, president and CEO of The Conservation Fund. “Collectively and individually, these demonstration projects are a platform for advocating for change locally and nationally.”
By endorsing these projects, the Forum commits to raising visibility and support for them. To learn more about the Forum and projects, see http://www.conservationfund.org/children-nature
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.