Reconnecting Children with Nature

Our Responsibility and Our Opportunity

Learn about successful strategies from recreation and parks professionals that address the disconnect from nature through facility and land use planning, program development, and community education and partnerships.

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Event Details

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October 08, 2020

10:00 AM to 11:30 AM (Pacific Time) {more time zones}

11:00 AM to 12:30 PM (Mountain Time)
12:00 PM to 01:30 PM (Central Time)
01:00 PM to 02:30 PM (Eastern Time)


FREE for members
FREE for nonmembers

Learning Credit Cost: FREE


Closed Captioning is available for this webinar.
Learning Credits
are available for this webinar.

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Webinar Sponsors

This webinar is free to the public, thanks to a generous sponsorship from New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), and the Federal Highway Administration.


Webinar Outline

This webinar is held in partnership with the New York State Recreation and Park Society Conference and select sessions that were cancelled due to COVID-19.

Childhood has moved indoors, and the negative effects on a child’s physical, emotional, and cognitive health are alarming. Richard Louv, in his book Last Child in the Woods, describes this as “nature deficit disorder.” Conversely, experiences in the natural world positively impact the imagination and creativity, reduce stress, improve problem solving skills, lessen physical injuries and enhance all of the senses. Recreation and parks professionals are in a unique position to address this disconnect from nature through facility and land use planning, program development, and community education and partnerships. Learn about successful strategies and share examples from your own experience. A book list for suggested reading will be shared.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will learn the definition of “nature deficit disorder” and the effects on a child’s health and well-being
  • Participants will learn about proven strategies and existing programs and facilities that are successful in addressing this disconnect
  • Participants will learn about potential community partnerships that can help meet this challenge


This webinar qualifies as a Health, Safety, and Welfare (HSW) course (via LA CES).

Webinar Resources

by Richard Louv. In this influential work about the staggering divide between children and the outdoors, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation—he calls it nature-deficit—to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.

by Richard Louv. The immediacy of Richard Louv’s message in Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder galvanized an international movement to reconnect children with nature. Now, in The Nature Principle, Louv reaches even further with a powerful call to action for the rest of us.

by Eva Selhub and Alan Logan. Scientific studies have shown that natural environments can have remarkable benefits for human health. Natural environments are more likely to promote positive emotions, and viewing and walking in nature have been associated with heightened physical and mental energy.

by Florence Williams. From forest trails in Korea, to islands in Finland, to eucalyptus groves in California, Florence Williams investigates the science behind nature's positive effects on the brain. Delving into brand-new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and strengthen our relationships.

by Jennifer Ward. I Love Dirt! presents 52 open-ended activities to help you engage your child in the outdoors. No matter what your location--from a small patch of green in the city to the wide-open meadows of the country--each activity is meant to promote exploration, stimulate imagination, and heighten a child's sense of wonder.

by Jennifer Ward. Through 52 ideas—some classic and some new—Let’s Go Outside! offers a range of activities perfect for children ages 8 to 12. Whether you’re in the country, the city, or anywhere in between, this book is sure to help you get outside—and run, dance, hike, or camp—with your preteen.

by Joseph Cornell. Sharing Nature with Children® sparked a worldwide revolution that connected millions of parents, educators, and children with nature. This classic has now been combined with Sharing the Joy of Nature to make a treasury of Joseph Cornell’s best-loved nature games.

Biophilia is Edward O. Wilson’s most personal book, an evocation of his own response to nature and an eloquent statement of the conservation ethic. Wilson argues that our natural affinity for life—biophilia—is the very essence of our humanity and binds us to all other living species.

by E. O. Wilson. Perhaps more than any other scientist of our century, Edward O. Wilson has scrutinized animals in their natural settings, tweezing out the dynamics of their social organization, their relationship with their environments, and their behavior, not only for what it tells us about the animals themselves, but for what it can tell us about human nature and our own behavior.

Trails are an important resource, but sadly we are increasingly seeing trails abused by littering and vandalism. American Trails has created a packet to teach kids to be great trail stewards so the next generation of trail lovers can help lead the way towards better care for our trails.

Resource Websites

Questions and Answers



Jack Voelker, Retired

Jack Voelker retired in 2015 after a 40 year career as a recreation professional in both municipal and private non-profit settings, and more than 50 years serving youth in a wide variety of environments. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Jack and his wife Diane grew up in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY, lived in West Philadelphia and for the past 46 years have enjoyed life in rural southwestern NYS in their 1850 farmhouse on 65 acres. Together they initiated a monarch butterfly project with their local school district, leading 4th graders in habitat restoration. Their property is not only home to a large organic garden but is also a certified Monarch Waystation through Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas. Jack has grown hops on the farm but that’s a story for another day. He is a published author, including a children’s book (Grandpa John’s Ivy) and his nature photographs have appeared in publications as well. A frequent presenter at regional events and at NYS Recreation and Parks Society annual conferences, Jack has served as Conference Chair and Program Chair. In 2015 he was given the Distinguished Service Award, the Society’s highest honor.


Closed Captioning

We are offering closed captioning for our webinars, thanks to a partnership with VZP Digital. If you are in need of this service, please email us prior to the webinar. An unedited transcript will be sent to all attendees following the webinar.

Learning Credits and CEUs

American Trails is proud to be a certified provider of the following learning credits and continuing education opportunities:

  • American Institute of Certified Planners Continuing Maintenance (AICP CM)
  • Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (LA CES) (most HSW approved)
  • National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) CEU equivalency petition
  • CEU/PDH equivalency petition for other accepting organizations

Learning credits are free for attendees for American Trails webinars and the International Trails Summit, as well as for other trail and outdoor recreation-related conferences, webinars, and workshops we offer credits for. Learn more here.



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5,040 views • posted 07/31/2020