Watching a pair of blue jays frolic in a bird-bath. Sitting on a park bench observing squirrels chase each other around a giant oak tree. Gardening in your backyard. Planting a tree. Fishing along a misty river. Seeing turtles sunbathe on a log in a local lake. Counting stars by a dying camp fire in a state park.
People who love the outdoors and wildlife are invited to check out a new online community called Wildlife Nation that the National Wildlife Federation is launching today with the goal of connecting people with each other in order to instill a love of wildlife in children. You can visit Wildlife Nation at: www.wildlifenation.org.
“My favorite memories as a kid involve the outdoors. But children today are becoming increasingly disconnected from nature and wildlife,” said Becky Lentz, director of Great Lakes programs and operations at the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office, which initiated the community. “We started Wildlife Nation because we can’t imagine a world where nature and wildlife are not a part of kids’ lives. Our goal is to create a community where we all help each other so that kids today can enjoy the wonders of wildlife whether they live in a large city, a suburb, or rural community.”
Wildlife Nation aims to attract people who enjoy doing things outside or who want to get outside more—and to connect them to other like-minded people to create a network of people who can help each other connect kids to nature. People who join the community can upload pictures, tell stories, and ask questions. Once there, people can find resources to create a habitat in their backyard, plant trees, or camp and fish.
“We view Wildlife Nation as a kind of ‘niche Facebook’ for adults who care about wildlife and want to pass that sense of caring on to the kids in their lives – whether those are their own kids, grandkids, or the kids at their school, church or down the block,” said Julia Liljegren, regional education manager. “The Wildlife Nation community is online and on-the-ground so teams of one or more adults do stuff outside with kids and then connect with others to share what they are doing online. People can do as much or as little as they want, how and when they want to do it. Whether you’re the type of person who likes to take a leisurely stroll around the block or hike the Appalachian Trail, you’re welcome to be part of Wildlife Nation.”
People and organizations can join Wildlife Nation. There are 16 founding teams representing the states of Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia, and Vermont all of which are participating in the launch of the social media platform. Founding teams include families, schools, corporations, organizations and state agencies.
“Wildlife Nation is open to adults who want to help create a future in which kids develop and retain a wonder, respect and appreciation for wildlife,” said Lentz. “There is no one right way to get kids outdoors. We’re forming a community that is helping grow the next generation of wildlife stewards. Families, camp counselors, teachers, faith leaders, community mentors, and business leaders are all welcome.”
Increasingly, children are spending more time indoors and in front of electronic devices. Wildlife Nation hopes to help reverse this trend by inspiring kids to get outdoors every day to create a generation of happier, healthier children with more awareness and connection to the natural world.
The National Wildlife Federation has worked to connect children and youth with nature for decades, 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.
“Wildlife Nation is about one thing: Inspiring people to go out and enjoy wildlife,” said Liljegren. “Each person has a story to tell and every one of us can help make a difference so that kids can enjoy wildlife now and for years to come.”
Logo courtesy National Wildlife Federation