This Medical Center Prescribes Nature, and Fills Prescriptions On-Site

We inrx_nature the Nature Explore family don’t need a study to tell us that nature has many positive benefits for our physical, mental and spiritual health. We feel these benefits in ourselves, and see them in the children who play in our outdoor classrooms. Yet if nature is so good for our health, why aren’t doctors prescribing time outdoors?

They are, across the country, thanks to the “Rx For Outdoor Activity” training given by The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF). Doctors who have taken this training are qualified to write prescriptions for nature and to address children’s health issues as they relate to nature and the environment.

One of these Nature Champions is Daniel Porter, MD, Medical Director of the Lone Star Family Health Center (LSFHC), in Conroe, Texas. Lone Star also has a new Nature Explore Classroom on grounds. Doctors there are writing prescriptions for patients to spend time in the outdoor classroom. These are not simply verbal recommendations, but true prescriptions that are entered into the patient’s electronic health record. This is the first Nature Explore Classroom directly on the grounds of a federally qualified health center, and a model for future replication elsewhere.

To read the full article, click here

Fly-By Forestry Takes Off

LOC7“As they formulate ways to protect endangered woodlands and rehabilitate ones already lost, scientists and governments need detailed information on the structures and vulnerabilities of forests around the world. Traditional ground-based surveys lack sufficient scope, so scientists are turning to another way to take the measure of the trees: light detection and ranging, or LiDAR, remote-imaging technology.

Remote laser imaging can measure the health and density of forests, allowing scientists to observe large swaths of vital ecosystems all at once.”

To read the full article click here.

Clabby, Catherine.  2015 Jan.  Fly-By Forestry Takes Off. American Scientist Jan-Feb 2015:


Connecting With Nature? There’s an App for That

2014-12-04-iphonephoto-thumb[1]Let’s face it, people are tied to their technology.  Smartphones travel with us wherever we venture. Why not use this resource as a way of more deeply connecting with nature?  Apps that  encourage  nature exploration and environmental literacy are readily available.   More and more, environmental organizations are finding ways to use technology to encourage people to spend time in nature.

To read the full article click here

Klasky, Ben.  2014 Dec 04. Connecting With Nature? There’s an App for That. Huffington Post: Green.

Want Your Kids to Get Into Harvard? Tell ‘Em to Go Outside!

DF-41A growing body of evidence supports the belief that spending time in nature has positive impacts for youth.  Schools that have developed outdoor teaching areas and nature-based educational experiences report academic improvements among students in multiple subject areas. Researchers are finding that out-of-school learning experiences, which include non-formal educational settings like national parks, museums, and nature centers, contribute to student’s knowledge and interest in science and the environment.   

To read the full article click here.

Louv, Richard. 2014 Sept 22. Want Your Kids to Get into Harvard? Tell ‘Em To Go Outside. Children & Nature Network: The New Nature Movement.


Connecting Kids to the Hogtown Creek Watershed in Gainesville, Florida

mary__kids_in_woodsInterfaceSouth and local partners, including the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Alachua County School District, the Gainesville Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs, and Alachua County Environmental Protection Department, received funding through this year’s Forest Service More Kids in the Woods (MKIW) cost share funding opportunity. The MKIW program supports activities and programs designed to spark curiosity about nature and promote learning through applications of science, technology, engineering and mathematics principles.

Project partners will collaborate with Westwood middle school science teachers to conduct outdoor science learning activities and service learning projects within the nearby Hogtown Creek Watershed in Gainesville, FL. Partners will also organize a school camp out, participate in career day events and science fairs, and conduct a train-the-teacher workshop on outdoor learning concepts and techniques. Project successes, materials and information will be shared locally, regionally and nationally through our combined partner networks.

To learn more about the Forest Service’s More Kids in the Woods program and 2013 cost share funding recipients visit:



TREEmendously Fun Outdoors

DSCN4442Annie leading Zumbatomic session

Annie Hermansen-Báez and Wayne Zipperer of the Southern Research Station (SRS-4952 Centers for Urban and Interface Forestry) collaborated with Littlewood Elementary teacher Mrs. Ashley Whitehead and University of Florida graduate student John Lagrosa to lead a tree club for students from Littlewood Elementary’s multiage program in Gainesville, FL, March-April 2013. Each session began with a Zumbatomic®1 or yoga warm up outside, emphasizing the importance of outdoor activity and the need to engage in exercise to stay healthy. Students were then asked to “adopt” a schoolyard tree, each picking a different species of tree to learn about. Over the four-session club, students learned about their particular tree and kept a nature journal to record different characteristics of their tree. Students were given an official “Adopt a Tree” Certificate and made tree identification signs that will be displayed near their adopted trees for other students and teachers to learn about trees located around their school.

1Zumbatomic® classes are designed specifically for kids ages 4-12 and include specially choreographed, kid-friendly Zumba® routines to music that kids love, like hip-hop, reggaeton, cumbia and more.


What is a “Green School”?

There are many elements of a green school, including reduction of environmental impact and costs; improvement of the health and wellness of students and staff; and provision of effective environmental and sustainability education, which incorporates science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts, civic skills, and green career pathways. Also important is strong partnerships and networks, and a focus on service learning.

Here are some links to learn more about green schools: