Final Report: Spring “Next Generation” Forums

July 2012 – Children today spend far less time outdoors interacting with the natural world than previous generations did. As we noted in February in our Connecticut State of the Birds 2012 report, “Where Is the Next Generation of Conservationists Coming From?” we think that will have serious implications for conservation in coming decades.

There Are No Simple Solutions

Helping create the next generation of conservationists will require solutions as seemingly easy as parents insisting that kids go outdoors or as complicated as changes to school curricula, pursued by families, schools, non-profit organizations and government.

We followed the report by organizing four community forums based on the same theme. Almost 120 people participated, including two dozen experts from around the state.

Our conclusion, based on what we heard in each forum and on our own analysis, is that the problem will require a broad array of solutions – as simple as parents insisting that kids go outdoors or as complicated as changes to school curricula – pursued by families, schools, non-profit organizations and government.

Participants at each forum identified similar causes: Parents either don’t let or don’t encourage their children to go outside enough. Kids prefer the virtual world of computers and smart phones to the real world of nature. When kids are not using their computers, their time is often highly structured and tightly scheduled. Schools are ill-prepared to teach ecology and environmental science or can’t fit it into their curricula.

But in addition to an intelligent articulation of the problem, we also heard enough ideas to leave us cautiously optimistic that solutions do exist and that there are people and organizations that want to help carry them out. Read more here

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