Nebraska's Major Gifts Manager Joseph Pettit sat down with Writer Jill Wells to talk about what spending time in nature means to his family.


What do you do for The Nature Conservancy?


I began working for the Nebraska Chapter in August 2011. My primary responsibilities involve coordinating our chapter's fundraising process, running the Corporate Conservation Council, and managing major donor and member events. I also manage a small group of administrative volunteers. Prior to TNC, I worked in performing arts marketing, sponsorship, and fundraising.


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


Parents absolutely should be worried that kids aren’t getting outside enough. There are serious ramifications to living a sedentary, sheltered lifestyle. Being outdoors necessitates physical activity and exploration. Physical activity leads to healthier kids and exploration is the bedrock of critical thinking and creativity.


Why is it important to you that your children grow up connected to nature?


It’s my belief that being connected to nature gives a person a sense of scale and interdependence. Hiking in a forest of giant trees filled with birds or walking along a creek and counting turtles and fish reinforces that nature is immense and we are just a small part of the equation. I hope that my children will react to these experiences with the idea that they are one among many and that their actions have impacts beyond themselves.


How does spending time outdoors impact your children?


Spring has just begun in Nebraska and that means the season of cooped-up kids is over. The contrast is dramatic. My kids were becoming moody and hyperactive after months with very little time outside. Now that the weather is warmer and we are outside more, smiles abound and the kids have an outlet for all that pent-up energy. The greatest impact I have found is the bond the natural world can create between siblings and between kids and parents. Learning to identify birds by ear together somehow seems more concrete than learning how to get to next level of a video game.


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