EARTH MONTH 2014: You're part of the New Nature Movement If….

About the Author

Richard Louv is Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Children & Nature Network, an organization supporting the international movement to connect children, their families and their communities to the natural world. He is the author of nine books, including "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" and "The Nature Principle." His newest book, "Vitamin N," offers 500 ways to build a nature-rich life. In 2008, he was awarded the Audubon Medal. He speaks frequently around the country and internationally.

We’ve come a long way since the first Earth Day on this day in 1970. I remember the speakers and the speeches that day, from the steps of Strong Hall at the University of Kansas, and how the springtime campus looked stunningly and appropriately green.

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Built on the shoulders of Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir and Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold and many others, the creation of the modern environmental movement came none too soon.

I’m old enough to remember rivers that caught fire when I was in high school that were still flammable when I graduated from college — rivers that later became good fisheries because of the Clean Water Act. No one can diminish what environmentalism has accomplished. But now come new challenges.

Today, we see an evolution of that movement into one that includes but adds to the basics of conservation and sustainability, one that offers a compelling, inspiring portrait of the future — not just of a survivable world, but of a nature-rich world in which our children and grandchildren thrive.

The children and nature movement is at the heart of all of this movement. It brings  people together who otherwise might not want to be at the same room. So, starting with that, who’s part of the new nature movement?

You’re part of the new nature movement if….

• You want to reconnect with real life in a virtual age.
• You’re a student who’s decided to build a career connecting people to nature.
• You’re an entrepreneur who wants to build a business connecting people to nature.
• You’re a parent, child or therapist who believes that the family that plays in nature together stays together.
• You’re a biologist, landscape architect or policymaker dedicated to transforming cities into engines of biodiversity and human health.
• You’re someone who understands that all spiritual life begins with a sense of wonder, and that nature is a window into that wonder.

• You hunger for authenticity; you believe in nature’s power to create a deeper sense of personal and regional identity.
• You can be of any race or culture, you can live in an inner-city, suburb or small town, and you see your connection to nature as a birthright.
• You’re a biophilic architect on the cutting edge of green design.
• You’re a nature-smart developer who creates or rebuilds neighborhoods that connect people to nature.
• You’re an urban planner or public health official who believes that creating more nearby nature builds better health, tighter social bonds and a smarter workforce.
• You’re an employer using biophilic design to create a more productive workplace.
• You’re a nature-smart homeowner determined to create a healthier, happier, restorative home, yard and garden.

• You’re a pediatrician or other health care professional who prescribes nature for your young patients and their families.
• You’re helping a hospital, children’s mental health center, nursing home or other health facility encourage healing through nature.
• You’re an ecopsychologist, wilderness therapy professional, nature therapist, camp counselor, docent, or park ranger working as a “park health paraprofessional.”
• You’re a “new agrarian” — an organic farmer or rancher or urban gardener.
• You’re a locavore, dedicated to consuming
locally grown food.

• You want to reignite all of your senses.
• You’re a nature-smart teacher who takes your students outside because you understand the power of nature to help them learn.
• You’re an artist, writer, photographer or musician who knows the power of nature to stimulate creativity, and you use your talents to reconnect people to nature.
• You’re an outdoor recreationist who restores nature.
• You’re a citizen naturalist.
• You care about the human relationship with nature, whether you’re liberal, conservative…or other.
• You’re a law enforcement official who believes nature can play a role in crime prevention and prison recidivism.
• You’re an attorney who protects the forgotten human right to our connection to nature and the responsibilities that come with that right
• You’re a mayor or county official or business leader looking for a new way to envision your region’s future.

• You’re done with despair; you want to create a newer world.

Most importantly, the new nature movement isn’t about going back to nature, but forward to nature.

The list above is a partial list. Are you on it? Can you add to it?


Richard Louv is co-founder and chairman emeritus of The Children & Nature Network and author of THE NATURE PRINCIPLE, on which this list is based, and LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS.


  1. A couple of these stad out for meL
    “You’re a nature-smart homeowner determined to create a healthier, happier, restorative home, yard and garden.”

    “You’re an artist, writer, photographer or musician who knows the power of nature to stimulate creativity, and you use your talents to reconnect people to nature.”

    I’m also a grandparent who is working on connecting our grandchildren to nature thru our yard and garden and thru exploration of the natural areas in our region.

  2. Thanks for the inspiring reminder that many, many people are actively connecting others to nature. The Children and Nature movement “is moving” and we have hope.

  3. I teach an outdoor education class for parents and their 2-5 year olds. We go out into the wonderful forests of the Northwest, near Seattle, year round. Rain or Shine. I also am lead teacher in an Outdoor Preschool where we gear up for the rain every day. The kids are awe inspiring in their desire to play and enjoy nature, and I get to love my job!

  4. You could name where that picture took place (McAfee’s Knob) without looking at the caption.

  5. John Thielbahr

    ……and you are retired looking for a cause, and are concerned about your children and grandchildren, and all children, growing up devoid of a connection with nature because you have wonderful memories of unstructured play outdoors as a child, and those days seem long gone.

  6. I am a homeschooling mom who has built a worldwide community of nature loving families who want to ignite a fire for nature in our children. We connect through the internet and share our nature study adventures whether that is in our own backyard or on family adventures.
    One flower, one tree, one bird at a time we are learning right alongside our children.
    Love this post and the idea. Definitely going to share!

  7. I’m a nature-smart teacher and founded an organization almost 60 years ago to teach ecological principles and connect kids to nature.

  8. I especially like the last entry: “done with despair”. That really sums it up. I think the nature movement has to focus on making positive connections with people from all walks of life and celebrating the good things nature brings people. Especially with children — we have to make nature fun again and give them the space and freedom to enjoy it. As an artist/writer, my goal is to get people to take a closer look at the world around them. Hopefully, that will spark their interest, their passion, and ultimately, their will to preserve it.
    Great post!

  9. I see myself in several of the roles described. Locavore, citizen naturalist, “nature-smart” teacher (although I’ve struggled to make that a reality in recent years).

  10. a landscape architect who is passionate about finding new ways to connect children and nature through play, it’s integral to forging a new generation of carers for the planet.

  11. For 43 years I taught elementary school is several communities in several states in the USA. The last year I taught before my retirement 7 years ago, I received a new student mid-year from urban Chicago, who had moved to our suburban community, near Madison, Wisconsin. He had come from Chicago on a bus, at night, when he could not see the country-side as they traveled. Soon after his arrival, we had a “field trip” from our small community to a nearby community, and we passed through the countryside as we traveled. My first graders spent the time pointing out to this little new student what he was seeing. He gleefully shouted to me: “Mrs. Wilson, I just saw a real-live cow!” Next, “Mrs. Wilson, I saw a real-live horse!” As we climbed down out of the bus on our arrival, he tugged at my sleeve, excitedly, and said, “Mrs. Wilson, I saw real-live corn, too!” Tearfully, I led my little flock into the school building where our “pen pals” from that school were waiting. That trip was “priceless” for us all! As the year went on, we introduced him to the local Aldo Leopold Nature preserve and several other nature events, as well as daily science on our playground area etc. He told me, yes, he had been to a park, once, in Chicago. His father had taken him there. It was the big event he remembered from his Chicago days.
    I realize this is an extreme case, but I fear, not as extreme as it first appears. There must be thousands of children who had never seen a real-live cow, horse or corn. Thank you for all the work you do to make people aware of this need of our children and adults, as well.

    • Richard Louv

      A wonderful story, Elsie. Thanks for sharing it.

  12. Rich,
    This is a great post! It goes a long way to help people feel connected to a larger vision ~ offering validation, affiliation, and a positive, motivational energy! I know I’ll use it with my patients and students!
    Pat Hasbach

  13. Is that a picture of McAfee’s Knob? I first hiked that when I was a kid…still an avid hiker and still in love with that spot!

  14. After a lifetime studying various forms of medicine, I have learned that having fun deepening our connection to animals and nature can be the most profound therapy of all. So I am happy to say I am part of the new nature movement, now seeking opportunities to “teach the teachers” skills to grow a healing bond. Please let me know if I could be of assistance in any of your programs. It would be lovely to meet you. Keep up the AMAZING work!
    Dr. Penny, Veterinarian & Nature Guide

    • Richard Louv

      Terrific, Dr. Lloyd. Hope you’ll connect with the Children & Nature Network. Getting veterinarians involved is a goal we have yet to explore — but should!

  15. I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to hear you speak in St. Louis. In the 1990’s I completed my master’s thesis titled “Encouraging Ecophilia: How Our Schools Can Help.” At the time I was working as a Field Science Instructor in a program connected with Washington University. Unfortunately, this program has long since folded but I continue to encourage children to spend time engaged in nature study as an elementary school science teacher. Listening to you speak, and reading “The Nature Principle,” has given me a renewed commitment to my work. As I plan my curriculum for the next school year I will find new and exciting ways to get the children outdoors. Thanks for helping to enlighten us all concernint the growing epidemic of Nature Deficit Disorder.
    Amy Kilpatric
    Science and Nature Teacher
    Community School, Ladue, Missouri

  16. I’m an environmental science teacher who left the classroom after twenty-four years to explore ways to forge a strong connection between young children and the natural environment. Working with two early childhood teachers we have designed a program called: ‘Kids Afield’ in which we provided our five-and-six-year-old students with digital cameras to deepen their connection to the natural world. We have been surprised and encouraged by the first year of this program and will be presenting the program at the North American Association of Environmental Educator’s Conference in Baltimore this fall. We hope to export our program to a city school district next year if we receive funding.

  17. I love your list, and even more, I love that I can see myself in it. I seek to bring myself closer to nature — even backpacking and sleeping somewhere remote always seems separate to me with all the high-tech gear we tend to carry: like tents to protect us from the elements and the animals, for example. 🙂 Not that I want to be rained on…., but still. Lately, I’m interested in finding a way to use nature as part of my Reiki practice. There are already practitioners who teach Reiki outdoors, and I’d like to take that a step farther and use nature as part of the healing process, as a healing tool. Some of the stories in The Nature Principle have given me some ideas on how to do that. I love the idea of thinking of myself as part of this new nature movement.

  18. I’m a grandfather and great grandfather who stays busy mentoring our 24 grandchildren and my university students on becoming tree hugging humanitarians. The Child & Nature Network provides many arrows to keep my quiver filled.

  19. As someone who’s loved engaging and connecting people of all ages to nature as a botanical garden educator for two decades, and was a biology professor for a decade before that, bravo to a great essay.

    As I move into the next stage of my “work” life next month, past the “paid” part of it, what I’m bringing forward is my deep love and passion for sharing nature (and gardening for nature) for people of all ages.

    Wherever we are, there’s great opportunity and it’s certainly meaningful work.

  20. I am a holistic health professional with a variety of healing and spiritual tools. My former career was in natural history and environmental areas. I have recently decided to make re-connection with nature my main focus of a new business. One of the benefits I see is relieving our feeling of isolation and loneliness.

    I love your list. Thanks for writing it. I can connect with so many items on it. There are so many ways to approach connecting with nature.

  21. I am a resident service director at an Independent Senior Housing complex with over 278 units. We are NOT a nursing home or assisted living. I have active senior adults from 60+ that live here. I am starting a Nature Club aimed at adults 60+ to help them better connect with nature in their lives. I am working with a naturalist to help us establish a Phenology trail around our property and I am planning to help educate my seniors on how to observe the changes in nature around them. I also will be talking about other Nature Based Activities they can get involved in including: Green Exercise, Gardening, Aroma Therapy, Animal-Assisted Interventions and Educational opportunities. I am not aware of anyone else doing this with senior adults?? Do you know of any others?? Paula Frakes

    • Richard Louv

      This sounds great! I’ve not heard of anything quite like this. Will pass this along to Janice Swaisgood, who leads the way with C&NN’s Family Nature Clubs. (here C&NN email address is Please tell us more.

  22. This is a wonderful list, that must – surely – include all people! I have founded a socially-minded business called Happier Outside, which serves to inspire, tool-up and connect people who find their outdoor experiences increase their happiness. We are just about to launch the website, but can currently be found on Facebook at and on twitter @happierout – we love contributions, connections and content. If you want to connect with like-minded people from around the world, and are ready to be inspired, check us out!



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