National Parks and Recreation Month: Combating Nature Deficit Disorder

national parks and recreationThis July marks the 30th annual National Parks and Recreation Month. These government-based organizations offer outdoor activities including golf, fishing, swimming, skateboarding, and biking. They partner with valuable outdoor, conservationist, and educational organizations. They develop and maintain local parks and trails with free access to the community. Our Parks and Rec departments are an important part of our local communities and serve millions of visitors every year.   Not only do they encourage us to get outdoors, they also ensure we have free, easily accessible places for our favorite open-air activities!

As our daily schedules become increasingly busy and our entertainment choices continue to draw us inside, human beings are spending less time in their outdoor environment and are at risk of losing touch with the outdoors, nature, and wildlife. Today’s youth spends less time in the outside air than any preceding generation. national parks and recreation - nature deficit disorderDecreasing nature-based activities leads to the development of Nature Deficit Disorder, a concept first introduced in 2005 by Richard Louv in his best-selling book, Last Child in the Woods. This is not a medical issue per se. Rather it describes humans’ increasingly lacking relationship with the environment and results from too little time spent outside. Many people facing Nature Deficit Disorder are not aware of the problem. Parks and Rec departments play an important role in combating these issues. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to educate community members and facilitate outdoor fun – our time outside is key to building empathy for the environment and protecting our planet.

The National Recreation and Park Association conducted a national survey entitled “OUT is IN.” The purpose was to gauge American adults’ opinions and behaviors concerning outdoor time. The survey included 1,005 adults nationally and the findings are surprising. For example, 3 of ten adults admit to not spending time outdoors on a daily basis. Supporting Parks and Rec and spending time in their resources can combat these issues. As the summer months come along, do your part to overcome Nature Deficit Disorder – get outside and encourage your friends and family to do

To learn more about the OUT is IN survey, see their infographic below.

national parks and recreation - are you getting enough outdoor time?

Resources:

National Parks and Recreation Association

Education.com

Children and Nature

The Living Tree

Heather Kallevig

“He laid his hand upon the tree beside the ladder: never before had he been so suddenly and so keenly aware of the feel and texture of a tree’s skin and of the life within it.  He felt a delight in wood and the touch of it, neither as forester nor as carpenter; it was the delight of the living tree itself.” 

~J.R.R. Tolkein

From the Fellowship of the ring – Lothlorien

The Audubon Society: Shaping Conservation History and Hope for the Future

by Heather Kallevig

The Audubon Society is recognized as one of the most influential environmental nonprofits in the United States. The first chapter was created in Massachusetts by a group of female advocates angered by the slaughter of millions of waterbirds for the millinery of women’s hats. Their founding date was 1896 (Obmascik, 2004). The group took the Egret for their symbol to honor these beginnings. By 1898, 16 states across the country followed suit including Maine, California, and Indiana. In 1901, these state-level organizations combined forces to help establish the first National Wildlife Refuge in the U.S., the Pelican Islands of Florida.

For over a century, the Audubon Society has been a leader in securing wild lands for future generations, educating the public, protecting biodiversity, and shaping public policy. Audubon laid its stamp on many important landmark laws in American history, including the Audubon Model Law passed in 1901 to protect water birds from plume hunting, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918 which protected all migratory birds in the US and Canada and established valuable sanctuaries, aggressive campaigns which led to the 1972 EPA bans on DDT, and the Everglades Protection and Restoration Act signed by President Clinton in 2000.

Partnering with other environmental organizations, the Audubon makes education a priority, encouraging several yearly bird counts and other forms of citizen science. In 2014, the Audubon society drew heavy notice with their release of the watershed climate report an extensive study supported by decades of research.   This report predicted that climate change, through loss of habitat, would cause the demise or endangerment of 314 bird species by 2080 (The History of Audubon, 2015).

In the 117 years, since the Audubon society was first founded, the organization has grown to nearly 500 chapters. While education and conservation are a top priority, establishing laws to protect them is essential. “Audubon environmental policy, education and science experts guide lawmakers, agencies, and our grassroots in shaping effective conservation plans, actions and the policies to support them” (Audubon: About us, 2015).

As the millennial generation comes of age, they begin to assess possible membership of organizations and societies. The Audubon Society’s dedication to education, environmental protection, and biodiversity preservation makes it a valuable organization, one that present and future generations should support and maintain.

Audubon: About Us. (2015). Retrieved April 2, 2015, from  https://www.audubon.org/about

The History of Audubon. (2015, January 9). Retrieved April 2, 2015, from  http://www.audubon.org/content/history-audubon-and-waterbird-conservation

Obmascik, M. (2004). The Early Birds. In The big year: A tale of man, nature, and fowl obsession. New York: Free Press.