As we close the year for 2015 and look forward to 2016, it is important to reflect on the positive impact achieved by Texas Children in Nature, the regional collaboratives and our partners. There is no way to capture all the many great achievements, but hopefully this overview will give an idea of why Texas is considered a leader in the Children & Nature movement.
The six Texas Children in Nature collaboratives in Austin, Caprock, Coastal Bend, Houston, North Texas and San Antonio work diligently to raise awareness and collaborate on projects that help connect children and families with nature in their communities. Each region is comprised of volunteers who come together to share ideas, tackle issues and be inspired by one another. It is that very essence that TCiN and our national partner wanted to capture for the theme, Inspiration to Action, for the first international Children and Nature Conference and Tech in Nature Summit. (The next conference is in St. Paul, MN in May 2016)
The Conference was a true collaboration between the Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin, Texas Children in Nature and the Children & Nature Network. Each played a roll to bring together leaders from the conservation, health, education and built environment communities to inspire over 400 attendees from around the world.
As a follow up to the Conference, TCiN hosted a series of 10 blog articles from attendees to share what inspired them and what action they planned to take throughout the year. The range of ideas and actions is powerful.
The Conference allowed TCiN to make good on the need to revamp the Nature Rocks Texas websites to give families an on-line resource to find all the parks, zoos, nature centers and nature-based activities in their communities. The websites, completed in December 2015, are now more mobile friendly for families on –the- go and easier to navigate to play, explore and connect with near-by nature.
TCiN also participated in with the National Initiative to Understand and Connect Americans and Nature research project conducted by Wildlife Management Institute, Yale University School of Forestry 7 Environmental Studies, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department- results are expected summer 2016
- The Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin came together to fundraise and purchase a bus that can be used by CINCA partners. They also hosted the Technology in Nature Summit.
- The Texas Children in Nature Collaborative – Houston along with key partners hosted the People & Nature Conference in October.
- TCiN- Caprock hosted the Hike for Health in Lubbock.
- TCiN- San Antonio co-hosts a booth with Texas Wildlife Association at the San Antonio Rodeo every year. They also partner to host the Get Out and Play Day at the San Antonio Zoo.
- TCiN- North Texas collaborated for Health Hustle.
- TCiN- Coastal Bend shared booths at Earth Day, Bay Day, King Ranch festival and Corpus Christi Art Walks to deliver on hands-on experiences for families a the events.
- Multiple regions participated in the Texas Nature Challenge to connect families with the regional partners.
Collectively the network reaches over 178,000 via social media and on-line presence. TCiN continues to raise awareness through press releases, speaking engagements, articles and pod-casts.
Some of our major goals for 2016 include; updating our strategic plan, marketing and promoting Nature Rocks Texas, and supporting collaborative projects for each region. In 2014 we surveyed 200 partners, 78 of those responded and reported to have reached just under 4 million children with outdoor and nature-based opportunities. We hope to surpass those numbers in 2016!
Thank you to each region, volunteer and partner who create opportunities for children and families to connect with nature to be Healthier, Happier and Smarter.