Posted by Dawn O'Bar on Oct 13, 2017

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
How many of you spent a large part of your childhood years playing outdoors...or going on field trips during the school day?
 
 
 
 
 
It’s hard to overstate how much good nature does for our well-being: Study after study documents the psychological and physical benefits of connecting with nature. People who are more connected with nature are happier, feel more vital, and have more meaning in their lives.
 
Even in small doses, nature is a potent elixir: When their hospital room had flowers and foliage, post-surgery patients needed less painkillers and reported less fatigue. And merely looking at pictures of nature does speed up mental restoration and improves cognitive functioning.
 
These studies, along with hundreds of others, all point to the same conclusion: We stand to benefit tremendously from nurturing a strong connection with nature. Yet our connection to nature seems more tenuous than ever today—a time when our children can name more Pokémon characters than wildlife species.“  (From: "How Modern Life Became Disconnected from Nature.”
 

 

There is so much research now about the benefits of nature for all of us, but especially for youth. Many people now refer to it as Vitamin N for Nature.  This Huffington Post article discusses the issue of Nature Deficit disorder and how students are affected.
 

 

Why Children Need Nature

 

(If you cannot see the video below on your device, click here).

 

 

 

One organization based in Santa Barbara County (and supported by Rotary) is called NatureTrack Foundation.   It’s purpose is to foster a lifelong fascination with nature through outdoor field trips.
 
NatureTrack Foundation’s mission is to instill students with the leadership skills, attitudes, and habits for lifelong learning, and inspire them to be respectful stewards of our natural world.  The not-for-profit, NatureTrack, advocates the educational approach of noted author and educator David Sobel which fosters a child’s love of the earth while also developing a child’s academic and social competence. David Sobel’s most recent book  “Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms & Communities” offers scientific and anecdotal evidence that placed-based education is successfully meeting,  and in many cases, surpassing the various standards and mandates that are increasingly a part of educational reform in the United States.
 
Specially trained naturalists who enjoy sharing their knowledge and love of the outdoors with students lead NatureTrack adventures. Students learn the wonder of what is in their own “backyard” by hiking on local trails, spending time in oak woodlands, chaparral, grasslands, coastal sage scrub and other regional ecosystems. Children revel in identifying flora and fauna, learning about ecosystems, classifying rocks, listening to nature - piping birds, babbling brooks, scampering bunnies, reptiles rustling in the brush - and so much more. This all occurs while NatureTrack leaders relate their inquiries and discoveries to the appropriate curriculum, all the while letting nature be the teacher.  NatureTrack strives to inspire each student to be curious about the natural world and let nature lead the way.  “In order to create a society that truly reveres the natural world, we must offer its citizens life-changing experiences in nature.”
-Joseph Cornell, author of multiple books, including “Sharing Nature with Children” is considered one of the most highly regarded nature educators in the world today.
 
 
 
 
Founder, Sue Eisaguirre along with a team of active board members (“trackers”), bring over 30 years of experience in leading, teaching, and inspiring our youth. The team has decades of entrepreneurial experience for both profit and not-for-profit. All have a profound love of our environment.
 
 
 

 

 

 

(If you cannot see the video below on your device, click here).

 

 

 

 

About Nature Track

 

(If you cannot see the video below on your device, click here).

 

 

On a personal note, I have volunteered with this organization and have heard from children that live in the area that have never been to the beach or trails Nature Track field trips include.
 
 

Here are some photos from recent trips.

 

Kids building habitats at the beach.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Please feel free to take some time out in Nature this week to get your dose of Vitamin N.
 
 

 

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