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Growing Up Wild

Shelly Morris, the Conservancy's Western Kentucky Project Manager, and daughter Molly

As the Conservancy’s Western Kentucky Project Manager, Shelly Morris spends a lot of time outside. She tries to do the same for her twins, Hudson and Molly, who at 2 ½-years old require fresh air and sunshine for their restless toddler souls. In fact, Shelly and husband introduced their kids to tent camping when they were just under a year old.

“We bought backpack carriers for them for that first camping trip," says Morris. "While they still like taking things in from our backs, they are beginning to explore on their own now."

One of Morris' favorite things to do with her children is go out in the woods and flip logs and rocks to look for critters. A favorite outdoor destination for the family is Kentucky’s Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area where they hike, camp and learn about birds, trees and other wildlife. For Morris, heading outdoors represents precious family time as well as a key part of their education.

“I am concerned about the reduced amount of time that kids spend outdoors compared to my generation, or my parents’ generation. And it's not just about hiking and camping – it’s unstructured play out in the yard or walking to school,” says Morris, who together with her husband, turned off the television – for good – after the kids were born. “We want our kids to be outside exploring, playing and moving as much as they can.”

There is a method to her madness because experience dictates that connecting with nature fosters an inner peace, concern for the environment and an appreciation for a simple lifestyle. 
Morris adds, “Our kids are happiest when they are outdoors. You can just see an immediate shift, they are calmer and more content when they're outside.”

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