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Connecting Kids and Nature

For decades the National Wildlife Federation has worked to connect children and youth with nature, inspiring children through Ranger Rick® magazine, working with educators to get kids learning outdoors, and helping parents find new ways to engage their children outside.

Today the amount of time kids spend outside is alarmingly low—only minutes per day—while screen time is at an all-time high. The National Wildlife Federation has set a new goal to stem the tide and move kids back outdoors.

Our three-year goal is to get 21 million American children, teens, and young adults out of their indoor habitat and into the great outdoors. This goal propels us toward a future in which all kids spend time outside each day, creating a generation of happier, healthier children with more awareness and connection to the natural world.

National Wildlife Federation Green Hour

Kids in Nature, Shutterstock
Encouraging kids of all ages to spend time every day discovering the wonders of our world

The National Wildlife Federation’s Green Hour program is designed to encourage parents, schools, childcare centers, park agencies, camps, grandparents, and others to adopt a goal of one hour each day for children to play and learn outdoors in nature.

Why Have a Green Hour?

The idea of a "Green Hour" comes from research on creative play and health by the Centers for Disease Control and the Academy of America Pediatrics. Research also shows the best way to connect young people to a lifelong concern for nature, wildlife, and the outdoors is through regular positive experiences.

Getting kids outside has never been more important. That’s why we’ve teamed up with L.L.Bean to provide kids and families with safe, fun, and easy activities to do outdoors. Each week we will provide new activities for connecting kids to nature—from creating a nature notebook to becoming a wildlife detective, and getting creative with leaves, nature’s opportunities are endless.


Connecting Kids and Nature: Our Approach

The National Wildlife Federation is working with the major influencers of children's time to make the outdoors a bigger part of their everyday lives.

Working with Teachers and Youth Organizations
The National Wildlife Federation seeks to provide ongoing nature and outdoor programming to schools, childcare centers, park agencies, and other institutions to create a lasting base of environmental literacy, stewardship, and problem-solving skills. Schools and community-based organizations across the country are incorporating regular time for outdoor learning and play, using the National Wildlife Federation's Schoolyard Habitats®, Eco-Schools USA program, and opportunities such as tree planting events with Trees for Wildlife™. The National Wildlife Federation also offers educational resources such as lesson plans, curriculum, and webinars for connecting kids and nature.

Inspiring Parents and Caregivers
Through resources like our Ranger Rick® magazines and practical tool and tips, as well as special events, we aim to instill a love of nature in children and help parents incorporate regular outdoor time into their children's days.

Influencing Policy Makers
Working with National Wildlife Federation affiliates and other partners, we are making sure our decision makers recognize the integral role outdoor time plays in the health and well-being of our nation's kids and our environment, advocating for them to pass policies that help children, youth, and families spend regular time outdoors.

kids outside playing tug of warWhy Connect Kids and Nature?

The nature of childhood has changed. American childhood has moved indoors during the last two decades, taking a mental and physical toll on today’s kids. The negative impact of decreased time outdoors includes a doubling of the childhood obesity rate—accompanied by an incremental hundred billion dollar cost to our health care system—as well as declining creativity, concentration, and social skills.

Connecting children and nature has important health benefits. Studies show outdoor time helps children grow lean and strong, enhances imaginations and attention spans, decreases aggression, and boosts classroom performance. In addition, children who spend time in nature regularly are shown to become better stewards of the environment.

Fast Facts: Outdoor Time and Children

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Where We Work

More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

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