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Letter from Texas Parks and Wildlife Executive Director, Carter Smith

Dear fellow Texans,

We all have fond childhood memories of a special place where play, imagination and wonder reigned. For most, that place was outdoors. Through these experiences, we gained understanding, appreciation and a personal relationship with the natural world.

Sadly, today’s children are allowed less time for unstructured, creative play in nature than ever before. As the trend away from outdoor play and learning deepens, we are witnessing sobering consequences for children’s health, well-being and quality of life. Additionally, this youngest generation is missing out on critical experiences that lay the foundation for future stewardship of our natural resources.

We can reverse this trend. One achievable solution is to restore active play and learning in nature. This issue has brought together an unprecedented coalition of partners from all walks of life who formed Texas Children in Nature. These experts from many disciplines thoroughly examined the issues and outlined their recommendations in this strategic plan. Their wisdom, insights and integrity are reflected throughout the plan. By design, the plan is concise, optimizes partnerships and focuses on implementation across multiple public and private sectors.

Please consider the recommendations in this plan and join us in restoring our children’s well-being and their relationship with Texas’s rich natural and cultural heritage. The trend is real, the problem is solvable and the time to act is now.

Thank you for caring for our wild things and wild places. They need you now more than ever.

Carter Smith

Executive Director, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department