Growing Up Wild

A new survey shows that 65% of U.S. parents view the lack of time that kids spend in nature as a serious problem. Children are in need of more opportunities to enjoy the Great Outdoors, and for some Conservancy staff, the answer is to let them “grow up wild.”

Bill Kleiman is one of these parents. Bill and his family live on the Conservancy’s Nachusa Grasslands Preserve, which Bill uses as an opportunity to teach his daughter, Leah, about the importance of connecting to nature.

Read the Kleiman Family's story below.

What do you do for The Nature Conservancy?

Bill Kleiman:

I’m the preserve manager for Nachusa Grasslands, a 3,000+ acre preserve in Illinois.

A new survey reveals parents around the world are concerned children are not spending enough time outdoors. What is your reaction to that?

Bill Kleiman:

I agree that our children need unstructured time in nature, and as they age, more ecological education. We adults need to give them these opportunities.

I know that, when given the chance to be in nature, young people thrive. I’m consistently inspired by the young adults we hire to work for us during the summers. Typically, they are excited to be here stewarding the land. They absorb information quickly, they leave us impressed with their efforts, and they go on to great works in the world. They give me hope.

Why is it important to you that your child grows up connected to nature?

Bill Kleiman:

We—the staff and volunteers at Nachusa Grasslands—know that the hands-on work we do to care for the land, along with the experience of seeing the rare animals and plants at Nachusa, connects us in a deep way. My daughter can see and feel that connection by her interactions with the people who come to Nachusa and the conservation work we do.

How does spending time outdoors impact your children?

Bill Kleiman:

My daughter is a typical young teen—she loves her smart phone and texting with her girlfriends. But she can also name many of the trees, flowers, and animals on the preserve. We have taught her this over time in as gentle a way as possible. I don’t want to burden her with the adult issues of habitat loss, species extinction and climate change. Instead, I want her—and all children—to connect with nature and let that lead to support of conservation later in life.


x animal

Sign up for Nature eNews!

Sign Up for Nature e-News

Learn about the places you love. Find out
how you can help.

Thank you for joining our online community!

We’ll be in touch soon with more Nature Conservancy news, updates and exciting stories.

Please leave this field empty

I'm already on the list!

Read our privacy policy.