Kids Who Play More Outdoors May be Less Likely to Have Problems with Peers

peer-problem Kids who spend more time outdoors seem to gain a boost in their peer relations, per a new report from Statistics Canada. In September, the agency released a report on outdoor time, physical activity and sedentary time and health indicators of Canadians aged 7 to 14.

Canadian guidelines suggest that kids between 5 and 17 years old get at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity per day. Only 9 percent of children do. (The rule of thumb is if you’re able to carry on a conversation easily then you’re not working hard enough.)

Each additional hour spent outdoors was associated with:

  • 7 more minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity.
  • 762 more steps.
  • 13 fewer minutes of sedentary time.

Additionally, children reporting more time outdoors were less likely to have peer relationship problems compared with those who spent less time outside, Mark Tremblay of the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and his team said in Health Reports.

To read the full article, click here.

Outdoor Learning Project Reveals Children More Motivated to Learn When Outside

outdoor-learningChildren from 125 schools across the South West of England are happier, healthier and more motivated to learn thanks to a new project commissioned by Natural England that has turned the outdoors into a classroom and helped schools transform ways of teaching.

The findings have been released today by the Natural Connections Demonstration project, a 4-year initiative to help school children – particularly those from disadvantaged areas – experience the benefits of the natural environment by empowering teachers to use the outdoors to support everyday learning.

The project, which is funded by Natural England, Defra and Historic England and delivered by Plymouth University, is the largest project of its kind in England and has already helped more than 40,000 primary and secondary school pupils get out of their classrooms and into the outdoors – whether that’s a math lesson in a local park or drama out on the school field.

To read the full article, click here.

Can Urban Forest Settings Positively Influence Children with Autism?

In late July, autism_greenspaceUSDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the four recipients of the 2016 USDA Forest Service’s National Urban and Community Forestry Challenge grants. One of the recipients, Georgia State University (GSU) and several partners, will investigate the impact of natural environments such as urban and community forests on symptom expression in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Brian Barger, research assistant professor at GSU, is principal investigator for the grant, with collaborators from other universities, nongovernmental agencies, and the Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS). Cassandra Johnson Gaither, project leader of the SRS Integrating Human and Natural Systems unit based in Athens, Georgia, and Annie Hermansen-Baez, SRS science delivery and Kids in the Wood coordinator in the same unit, will provide their expertise in assessment and science delivery.

“Research results showing the positive effects of managed natural environments such as urban parks and forests on human general and mental health have grown exponentially over the last decade,” said Barger. “Yet no studies to date have explored the effects of these environments on the expression of core and associated symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorders.”

To read the full article in SRS’s CompassLive, click here.

Every Kid in a Park Initiative

DF-41The Every Kid in a Park initiative enables every US fourth grader (or age equivalent free-choice learner) and his or her family to have free access to any federal land or water for an entire year (up to August 31, 2016). The Every Kid in a Park initiative aims to encourage valuable opportunities to explore, learn, and play in our national parks, forests, and other federal lands.

Fourth graders were targeted because research show that children ages 9-11 are at a unique developmental stage in their learning where they begin to understand how the world around them works in more concrete ways. They are most likely to have positive attitudes towards nature, the environment, and culture, and grow into the next generation of stewards for our natural wonders and historical landmarks.

Beginning September 1, 2015, fourth graders can visit the “Get Your Pass” section of the Every Kid in a Park website at www.everykidinapark.gov, complete an online activity, and download a personalized paper voucher for print and unlimited use at federal lands and waters locations for one year. The paper voucher also can be exchanged for a more durable, Interagency Annual 4th Grade Pass at certain federal lands or waters sites. The Every Kid in a Park website also offers information and tips for trip planning and how parents can get involved.

Educators will be able to visit a specific area of the website and download and print lesson plan ideas and activities, along with paper vouchers for each of their students. Educators also will find information about the locations of their nearest federal land or water as well as field trip transportation grant opportunities.

The Every Kid in a Park initiative is supported by eight federal agencies:  the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Education, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, National Park Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Visit the Every Kid in a Park website to find out more! www.everykidinapark.gov

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. http://blog.childrenandnature.org/

 

Green Schools National Conference to be held in Virginia Beach, March 4-7, 2015

GSNC2015The Green Schools National Conference brings together experts and stakeholders to influence sustainability throughout K-12 schools and school districts.  Colleagues who share their passion and offer their own green schools experiences are put together in a true collaborative event with thought leaders and early adopters of green school best practices.   Attendees are passionate about transforming schools and the way they operate.  The annual conference is designed to allow attendees to learn about creative strategies for success and to take home real-life tools that can transform schools.

The 2015 conference will take place in Virginia Beach, VA, March 4-7, 2015. To learn more about and register for this conference visit: https://greenschoolsnationalnetwork.org/conference/

InterfaceSouth’s Kids in the Woods Updates

InterfaceSouth has partnered with the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Alachua County School District’s Westwood Middle School and Camp Crystal Lake, the City of Gainesville Kids in the Woods logo final IS verticalParks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, and the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department to develop a “Kids in the Woods” project at Westwood Middle School in Gainesville, Florida.

Some of the main objectives of the project are for students to become more aware and connected to their local environment and exposed to careers in science and natural resources, as well as increased teacher participation in providing outdoor learning experiences for students. Click here to visit our new site dedicated to this project and other related InterfaceSouth activities.

Loblolly Woods Helps Teach Young Scientists

004 By
Staff writer
The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, October 29, 2013
 
More Gainesville students are walking in the woods this year, thanks in part to a nearly $14,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service.

Westwood Middle School sixth-graders are spending this school year collecting data on wildlife and the environment in Loblolly Woods alongside scientists and teachers.

“There are a lot of benefits,” said Annie Hermansen-Baez, a scientist with the U.S. Forest Service. Students get out of the classroom and experience the woods that are right in their own backyard.

The entire sixth-grade class at Westwood is working in Loblolly Woods, which adjoins the school.

The project is funded through the U.S. Forest Service’s More Kids in the Woods initiative, and was the project funded in Florida this year.

More Kids in the Woods seeks to connect children with the outdoors. This year, the Forest Service selected about 30 projects with that goal for funding.

Also lending a hand to the project are Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs; the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department; the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation; and Camp Crystal Lake, which will organize a school camp-out and nighttime nature walk in the spring.

Over the course of the year, students will go out with scientists and teachers about once a week to collect data on wildlife behavior and the environment, learning about the scientific process along the way.

On Thursday, science teacher Sara Charbonnet’s class had its last day of collecting data about bird behavior.

About a month ago, scientists set up three data collection sites around Westwood Middle. Each site has three stations: a bird feeder with a fake cat, one with a fake snake, and a control feeder with no predators.

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Students rotated among the sites and stations over the past three weeks, taking notes on weather conditions and other factors, and keeping a tally of how many birds, and of what species, were feeding at the sites.

On previous observation days, students saw chickadees, blue jays, Carolina wrens and mourning doves.

But on Thursday, temperatures dipped into the 50s, and the woods were quiet.

Students at the control station — without predators — saw two cardinals and a fat squirrel.

At the cat station, the black-and-white decoy nicknamed “Oreo” always keeps the birds away, Hermansen-Baez said.

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“Zero birds is still good scientific data,” Merald Clark, of Gainesville Parks and Recreation, told the students as they fidgeted with their binoculars.

Over the next few weeks, the sixth-grade science classes will compile their data and put the information into graphs and tables so they can look for trends.

In January, the students will return to the woods to study frogs, trees or soil erosion with Michael Andreu of UF’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation.

Next year, the project will start over with a fresh crop of sixth-graders. Second-year funding through the Forest Service grant will kick in for a different project with the seventh-grade class.

Westwood teachers said they’re glad the students are getting the opportunity to do real scientific work.

“The kids get to meet scientists, and it dispels the myth that scientists have to be old men with the big hair in a laboratory with chemicals,” Charbonnet said.

But the students seem to be most happy with “just going into the woods,” in the words of Caleb Carter, 12.

It’s nice to get out of the classroom, he said, although classmate Zoe Dupler, 11, said she was glad the outdoor part was over for the semester.

“It’s really cold,” she said.

Contact Erin Jester at 338-3166 or erin.jester@gainesville.com.

 

Copyright © 2013 Gainesville.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.

Partnership Spurs Diversity Outreach Projects in Texas

YEARS AGO, John Warner, an urban district forester with the Texas A&M Forest Service and a longtime InterfaceSouth partner, recognized that landownership patterns in the southeastern part of the state around Houston were changing rapidly. Latino, Chinese, and Vietnamese families from Houston were moving to the interface and buying 5–20 acre tracts of forestland within his rapidly growing multi-county district. He realized that the agency was going to have to change its communication approach to reach many of these new forest landowners. “As an agency, we know how to communicate with traditional landowners,” says Warner. “However, outreach to different ethnic groups is something new for us.”

In 2007, an opportunity to reach these new landowners presented itself when Warner met Tamberly Conway, a graduate student in the College of Forestry and Agriculture at Stephen F. Austin State University. Conway was working with Latino Legacy, a program established by the university and funded by the USDA Forest Service’s [USFS] More Kids in the Woods program to connect Latino communities with the public lands and forestlands in the Houston area through bilingual conservation education programming. (Conway has since been hired by the USFS as a conservation education specialist working remotely in Texas for the USFS’s office in Washington, D.C.).

 To view the full article and learn more about recent activities of the Centers for Urban and Interface Forestry, visit our latest issue of Leaves of Change at: http://www.interfacesouth.org/products/leaves/partnership-spurs-diversity-outreach-projects-in-texas/index_html

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: 

www.fs.usda.gov/main/conservationeducation/about/education-themes/kids-in-woods  

www.fs.fed.us/news/2013/releases/05/more-kids-outdoors.shtml