the talk is on the table
In plenary sessions and table top discussions, participants shared success, synergies and examples from the emerging movement.

More than 80 leaders from across North America met in August 2007 to share strategies for building the movement to reconnect children and nature. The (C&NN) hosted this first National Gathering of Regional Leaders at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

Grassroots leaders took the first steps toward forming an essential inter-regional peer-to-peer network. One of their shared goals was to find effective ways to shorten the time between awareness and action as the movement goes forward.

Conference highlights included the opening welcome by C&NN board member Martha Farrell Erickson, co-chair of the President’s Academic Initiative on Children, Youth and Families at the University of Minnesota. Also of note were Stories from the Emerging Movement, with the voices of leaders from British Columbia to the Adirondacks, as well as comments on the “tipping point” and how to build community-based collaborative efforts to grow the children and nature movement, from C&NN board member John Parr, former president of the National Civic League and a founding principal of Civic Results. On the afternoon of the first day, regional leaders gathered to focus on eight major challenges – from reaching diverse audiences to developing the necessary organizational structures to marketing the movement.

Many of the resources compiled for the event are available here on the C&NN Web site. Photos and selected quotes from participants help to tell this emerging story.

Successes and Synergies – Examples from the Emerging Movement
A Panel of Representative Voices – Six Who Are Walking the Talk

Yusuf Burgess
Environmental Educator, New York State DEC

My energy is around hooks (to think outside the box, with hope), partners and processes. The hook for me was the Nubian Empire Ski Club, in the National Brotherhood of Skiers. This past year, I came up with another hook. I asked for college volunteers from the photo department at Hudson Valley campus downtown. The students took 15 inner city youth out to photograph nature. We got the cameras and we created avenues to go to; now we are all over the place taking pictures.

Bill Hoppel
Executive Director, Cincinnati Nature Center

I was thinking of the Fine Arts Fund ( in Cincinnati. They raise $9.3 million for the arts; as a result, the city thinks of itself as a community that values arts and culture. Using that model, perhaps LNCI could be the unifying campaign to bring all the nature-related groups together so that we can build the capacity to become a community that values children and nature too.

Bob Peart
Founding Director, The Kesho Trust

I’d like to share something that came out of our regional gathering in February, and that is the intergenerational transfer of experience – it is almost a newfound role for grandparents. That intergenerational transfer is very important and we have to think that through. It is not just about children; it is about children and families.

Akiima Price
Chief of Education and Programs, New York Restoration Project

In my work in Anacostia,Va., we train 17- to 25-year-olds to teach the younger students in our program. I’d like to think that the younger kids are hungry for the knowledge of the river – but actually, they are hungry for being respected and it comes from someone who looks like them.

Peggy Stewart
Manager of Outdoor and Environmental Education,
Chicago Park District

This past year we hosted the American Recreation Forum and we put the LNCI capper on it. We had a few hundred people coming – and we offered sessions on a whole range of topics, including multi-use and common ground, and living healthy. One session was “kids in the out of doors.” We had about three times as many people in that session. We talked about the challenges of providing unstructured education – like training kids to climb trees. It was hilarious.

Betsy Townsend
Co-founder, Leave No Child Inside - Greater Cincinnati

Over the past year we’ve had many, many informal discussions and people have great ideas, and they’ve taken those ideas and done something with them. For example, the University of Cincinnati has a day-care center for their faculty; someone donated property. The faculty were talking about the book, Last Child in the Woods, and talking about the center – and they asked themselves, “Wouldn’t it be great if we had a child-friendly backyard at the center?" So they’re planning one now. To me, that is what it is all about. It is real and tangible. LNCI is working – and great things are ahead of us.