Leaders from the health, education and conservation community gathered this week at the Boggy Slough Conservation Area to discuss the formation of a Pineywoods Children in Nature Collaborative. Facilitated by Jennifer Bristol, State Coordinator for the Texas Children in Nature Network, the meeting sought to explore the formation of a collaborative effort centered on getting children and families outside and creating community-level awareness of the values of nature-based education and exposure.
"A growing body of national research provides a strong link between contact with nature and improved mental, physical and emotional health in children and adults," said Bristol. "Despite this knowledge, we are in the midst of a generation of children and young adults that are increasingly disconnected from nature. Our effort is aimed at creating regional grassroots movements that will stop this trend and lead to healthier and happier children, families and communities.”
The first order of business for the Pineywoods Children in Nature Network will be to create awareness about existing nature-based programs in the region through the development of an online platform called Nature Rocks Pineywoods. Nature Rocks Pineywoods will be part of the Nature Rocks Texas websites that support families playing, exploring and connecting with near-by nature.
The Pineywoods Children in Nature Collaborative joins 6 other Regional efforts in Texas and fills an important geographic niche.
"The Pineywoods region is ecologically significant in so many ways, and we are blessed with a number of great organizations who are already doing amazing work to combat wildlife and natural resource illiteracy," said Jenny Sanders, Director of Outreach and Education for the Boggy Slough Conservation Area. "Our focus at the Boggy Slough Conservation Area is to work alongside these programs, support them where we can, serve as a research and teaching laboratory and create tangible exposure and learning opportunities for our community.”
Sarah Fuller, Outreach Coordinator for the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture at SFA, and Elyce Rodewald, Education Coordinator for the SFA Gardens in Nacogdoches, organized the first informational meeting for the Texas Children in Nature Network at the SFA Campus earlier this year. "We are so excited to see the momentum and hear the excitement of the collaborators who attended the meeting on Wednesday. Our motto is 'planting seeds - one child at a time', and we look forward to seeing the yield this effort can produce over time.”
If you would like to be a part of the Pineywoods Children in Nature Network, please contact Jenny Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (936) 225-2175. Learn more at http://texaschildreninnature.org/ and http://www.naturerockstexas.org/.