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News & Commentary In the News

C&NN Announces Science of Learning Collaborative Research Network

In partnership with the University of Minnesota, the North American Association of Environmental Education and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Children & Nature Network is pleased to announce the formation of Science of Nature-based Learning Collaborative Research Network. With funding from a three-year National Science Foundation grant, the network will develop a long-term interdisciplinary research agenda, conduct exploratory research and synthesize and disseminate existing knowledge.

New Children’s Zoo Aims to Cure ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’

Inspired by the children and nature movement, John Linehan, CEO of Zoo New England, hopes the redesign of the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston will help fight nature-deficit disorder. Re-opening in 2017, zoo visitors will be able to observe animals more clearly, and play in educational structures designed to mimic the animals’ natural habitats.

Shifting Definitions of Environment to Engage Youth Outdoors

At this week’s 2015 SHIFT Festival, Natural Leaders Juan Martinez and CJ Gould will be leading a breakfast discussion about how to better engage youth in the outdoors through collective impact, cultural relevancy, and by breaking down cultural and economic barriers. The SHIFT Festival, which runs from October 7-10, is an in-depth exploration of the opportunities and challenges at the heart of the outdoor recreation/conservation partnership, with an emphasis on GEMS (Gateways to Environments of Major Significance.)

A Dose of Nature: The Secret Prescription to Health and Happiness?

Derek Ward of Natural Habitat Adventures weighs in on the ongoing discussions and research on how nature is good for our health and happiness. Ward reminds us that while the research is new, nature as a healing concept has been around for centuries.

Lessons in the Wild

Children that attend Cedarsong Nature School have an entire forest for their school, learning through authentic exploration of the natural world. Erin Kenny, Cedarsong’s founder, has trained 75 schools over the past three years, with a goal to establish cohesiveness among forest schools.

Tamarack’s Nature Preschool Expansion Opens

Tamarack Nature Center in White Bear Township, Minnesota celebrates ten years by moving their nature preschool program to a bigger location. Once an experimental program, the nature preschool operates under a unique model: it is run by both the public school district and a county nature center.

E.O. Wilson Explains Why Parks and Nature Are Really Good for Your Brain

E.O. Wilson, the famed Harvard biologist and conservationist known for his influential ideas about evolution, shares why spending time in nature is not only good for our health, but for our brains too. Thirty years ago, E.O. Wilson introduced the idea of biophilia, or the innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes, and now analyzes how it is useful in today’s world.

Top Projects: Washburn Center for Children

Washburn Center for Children needed a bigger location to serve 2,700 children annually. Lead Designer Mohammed Lawal, of Lawal Scott Erickson Architects, found inspiration in Richard Louv’s book “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,” and focused on natural light and spaces. The 2.5 acre site now houses gardens, green space, and a brand new whimsical playground.

Study Proves Farm Dirt Is Beneficial for Children’s Health

A new study suggests that children exposed to the protein A20, often found in dirt on farms, tend to develop less allergens. This new research is an important step in developing more effective allergy prevention, and indicates that aerosol vaccines may have a greater success rate than classic injections.

20 Under 40: Preschool Founder Connects Children with Nature

Laura Whittaker, 31, is one of Duluth Minnesota’s Top 20 under 40. Whittaker was nominated for the award because she founded Wind Ridge Schoolhouse, her own outdoor preschool. Whittaker currently serves as the preschool’s director as well as a teacher, and is committed to promoting outdoor education.

Program Challenges Kids to Connect with Nature

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker launched Salt Lake City Explore — a program to challenge local youths and their parents to spend at least 30 minutes a day outdoors for a 30-day period. The program is part of a national effort spearheaded by U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to promote healthy lifestyles by connecting children with nature and inspiring the next generation of outdoor stewards.

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