Cable television and video games are winning out over more traditional outdoor recreation for the time and interest of our young people. Our kids need fewer adventure games and more actual adventure in their lives and we need to make that happen. So said Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Chairman of the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee during a hearing held this past spring. A line-up of invited witnesses, ranging from the Chief of the Forest Service to the Chairman of the Board for the American Sportfishing Association followed, each testifying on aspects of the trend away from outdoor activity for Americas youth.
Now ecological scientistswell positioned because of their field of studyare stepping up to do their part. The symposium No child left indoors: Ecologists linking young people with nature co-organized by the Ecological Society of Americas Vice President for Education Margaret Lowman (New College of Florida) and Bob Pohlad (Ferrum College) will be held during the joint meeting of ESA and the Society for Ecological Restoration.
Richard Louv, whose 2005 book Last Child in the Woods called nation-wide attention to the nature deficit in U.S. children, is keynote speaker for the symposium. The session will feature eight case studies offered by ecologists of different ages, races, and cultures and employing different outreach tools. Case studies will range from outdoor laboratories in Montana, to inspiring kids via tree canopy walkways, to community restoration activities on Catalina Island in California.
Knowledge of nature is vital if young people are ultimately going to make good decisions about personal health, climate change, and land-use management, says Lowman. Kids need to touch flowers and know why some plants cant survive without pollinators such as bees. It also doesnt hurt to know the difference between a harmless king snake and a venomous coral snake!