Connecting Pennsylvania’s youth to the outdoors

Well-documented statistics indicate our children are becoming increasingly disconnected to the outdoors. Since the publication of Richard Louv’s book in 2005, Last Child in the Woods, organizations and government entities have been strategizing on ways to reverse this trend. Child advocates fear that the lack of outdoor activities will have a devastating effect on children’s mental and physical health. Environmental stewards worry that the younger generations’ disconnection with the outdoors will mean these children as adults will be less likely to be personally committed to the protection of our natural resources. 

At the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, we work daily to connect people of all ages to nature through the public lands we manage and help support in communities. Kids in Nature is aimed at raising the awareness of existing opportunities in Pennsylvania’s parks and forests for connecting children to the wonders of nature and getting them actively involved in recreation and educational programs. This website is designed to provide tools and information to kids, parents and teachers to make it easy to get outside and explore nature.

As part of Kids in Nature, DCNR Secretary Ellen Ferretti and other DCNR staff are talking with youth to find out their wants, likes and dislikes. This information exchange features school visits, youth focus groups, park programming, contests and more. By finding out what excites kids about the outdoors and what is keeping them indoors, DCNR hopes to reverse the disconnect trend. Those who won’t have the opportunity to engage one-on-one conversations with the Secretary in focus groups will have the opportunity to participate electronically through contests, social media and the website.