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Stories in Kentucky

Have a Naturous Day

The Nature Conservancy's western Kentucky project director, Shelly Morris, reflects on Saturdays spent outdoors with her twins.

On a typical Saturday morning, when I ask my four year-old twins what they want to do for the day, they say, “We want to do something naturous!”

“Naturous” is their word for doing fun activities outdoors. It’s music to my ears. 

My husband and I started their exposure to hiking and camping and generally spending a lot of time outside early on, and thankfully these kids are growing up with a real love of the outdoors. One weekend we took them to The Nature Conservancy’s Mantle Rock Nature Preserve for a hike. They listened to birds, looked under rocks, and chased toads. We even went fishing for ant lions.

Adults tend to always be in a hurry. Being with young kids is always a great reminder to slow down and literally take time to smell the flowers.

Shelly Morris and Family

I think it’s safe to say that raising kids in the age of the ever-present screen is a challenge. Whether it’s a TV or a phone or a computer – they’re everywhere. It takes a conscious effort to turn those things off and focus on the natural world around you, but it’s certainly worth the effort. 

There is an abundance of research that has shown the connection between spending time in nature and improved physical and emotional health for both adults and children. Kids who spend time outdoors, whether it’s in a National Park or the city park, reap the benefits of fresh air, activity, and the experience of all the wonders that nature has to offer.

In addition to all of the good old-fashioned fun that is waiting to be had in nature, spending time outdoors with kids also presents a prime chance to talk about stewardship of our planet. The less connected that people are to the sources of their water, resources, and food, the more they take these basic but precious commodities for granted.

Shelly Morris and Family

When I take my kids outside, we talk about the importance of clean water and air and a healthy landscape, and how it is so important to take care of our planet. It is the basic principle of sustainability and I hammer it home to them at every opportunity.

I can remember how I was in awe of nature as a kid, and how that has stayed with me all these years to help shape who I am and what I value. Now that I am a mom, I am very thankful to be able to share these experiences with my kids and guide them to appreciate this wonderful world that we live in. That is why I encourage you and the young folks in your life to get out and do something “naturous”!

Shelly Morris and Family