People who regularly spend time outside are happier, healthier, and even smarter than those who do not. And hey, let’s face it: it’s just plain fun to get outside and play!
How did RI Families in Nature start?
When I was six years old, I visited the snow leopard exhibit at the Bronx Zoo, a small, concrete, cell-block exhibit. All that animal did was pace back and forth with a maniacal look in its eyes.
Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
As an adult, I wondered if humans are similarly affected by the lack of time we spend outside.
I’ve always been passionate about spending time in nature. I’m less tense, more in tune with my body, and motivated to take better care of it. In particular, I love a good hike. Before children came along, I was an avid hiker – not an expert or anything – but it was a regular part of my life.
And then I had kids…
Finding time and motivation to hit the trails was difficult. Plus, I never hiked with little legs following me. But I recognized how much better my children behave, eat, and – mercy! – sleep if we run around, climb some trees, and splash in puddles.
In September 2008, I saw author and child-advocate Richard Louv speak about his bestselling book, Last Child in the Woods. In this ground-breaking work, Louv connects the lack of nature in our children’s lives to obesity, attention disorders, depression, and a whole lot more. He even coined a new term to describe the trend: nature deficit disorder. Learn more here.
Louv’s book and talk inspired me to create a free club to encourage families – including my own! – to spend more time outdoors and explore Rhode Island’s many beautiful natural places.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments; if you need any help enjoying the great outdoors or hitting the trails; or to learn more about our educational workshops for schools and community groups.
See you outside!
After having taught high school and middle school science for several years, Jeanine joined the Education Department of the Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo as the coordinator for the award-winning Girls for Planet Earth program. She has also worked with WCS as Project Advisor for Teens for Planet Earth and as a curriculum developer. Presently, Jeanine works for the RI Environmental Education Association as the Project Coordinator of the Environmental Literacy Plan, supporting formal and informal teachers as they create “place-based” curriculum. A self-described tree hugging, science and math geek, Jeanine loves to run, garden, bake, hike, and go camping, especially when accompanied by her family. They live in Wakefield.