To get more kids into the woods, The Middlesex Land Trust and Everyone Outside have teamed up in a new education collaboration to bring more outdoor programing to our schools and communities. This joint effort is intended to get more people, especially children, outside and into nature, and to bring more families to know the Land Trust and our Preserves. With Everyone Outside’s teaching knowledge and experience and the Land Trust’s land and support, we will be working together to provide more opportunities for outdoor education with a focus primarily on the children in our communities.
If we were lucky as kids we spent many hours a week outside building forts, playing imaginary games, exploring, wandering, climbing trees, etc. However, many of us today spend more time working and in front of a monitor than we spend outside. And very few of our children are fortunate enough to have any unstructured time outside. The statistics are staggering. A recent Yale University study reports that that kids today typically spend 44 hours a week in front of a monitor and less than 40 minutes outside. At most schools, science education is inside and is primarily focused on global rather than local ecosystems. Kids today often know more about the creatures of the rainforest than their own back yard.
Many of us are passionate about the natural world and work hard to get time outside for ourselves. And we bring our children, friends and others we know out into the woods with us. But kids in general seem to have lost interest in their local environment. They’ve never experienced the freedom found in the forest, or the wonder of catching pollywogs in a pond. And they are missing out! There are of course risks to letting kids spend time outside in the woods. However, given the recent studies and the rise in childhood obesity, asthma, inattention, etc., we need to carefully think about what risks we are taking if we don’t let kids spend time outside.
In 2008, Lucy Meigs created Everyone Outside (EveryoneOutside.org) to provide opportunities for more people to spend time outside developing a deeper understanding and appreciation of the natural world. This year, Lisa Leisener joined Everyone Outside as their Enrichment Program Director and Financial Officer. With Lisa’s assistance Everyone Outside has recently become a non-profit organization that, like the Land Trust, is based in northern Middlesex County.
The Middlesex Land Trust and Everyone Outside are well suited as partners to work together and create more environmental education and nature programing. Our respective strengths in teaching and conservation complement each other and will help us to bring many more of our children to experience the outdoors. Partnering with the Land Trust, Everyone Outside will be working to offer guided hikes, enrichment programs both during and after school, and training for teachers and volunteers (who assist with programs). We hope you will come join us for some time outside!