Nature Speak: A Program for Connecting Kids to Place, Nature, and Each Other

How can we use science to empower children to create spaces that help them connect to nature?

Project Abstract

Today’s children spend less time in nature than previous generations. This summer our lab sought to promote children’s access to and relationship with outdoor spaces. We asked children to participate as researchers in our lab and worked alongside them to 1) identify meaningful experiences with nature (e.g. animal encounters, tree climbing), 2) determine the landscape features that allow for these activities, and 3) utilize those landscape elements to redesign a local park, schoolyard, or nearby nature space. We used some of the fundamentals of psychological research methodology (i.e. ethics, scientific method, survey construction, data analysis) to help children realize their power as informed stakeholders in their local community. In addition, from our interactions with kids, we developed a survey assessing the quality of childhood outdoor nature experiences. This is a survey developed for kids, by kids (and LC researchers) which we will employ in future research studies to investigate the role nature experiences play in developing conservation and sustainability concerns. With this work we aim to further empower youth to realize their confidence, voice, and values when it comes to protecting the environment and their relationships with it.

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