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NWF Green Hour

Commentary on what parents should know about and can do to counteract common "nature deficit disorders" in our TV-watching, video game-playing children including encouraging a daily "Green Hour" of outside play and learning. A program of the National Wildlife Federation

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Childhood Outdoor Time: Essential for Adult Conservation Commitment

A National Wildlife Week Special

Children who fish, camp and spend time in the wild before age 11 are much more likely to grow up to be environmentally-minded and commtted as adults, a new study finds.

Cornell Professor, Nancy Wells, and Kristi Lekies, a research associate in human development also at Cornell, recently analyzed data from the U.S. Forest Service that explored childhood nature experiences and adult environmentalism. The Cornell researchers used a sample of more than 2,000 adults, ages 18 to 90, who were living in urban areas and who responded to questions about their early childhood nature experiences and their current adult attitudes and behaviors relating to the environment.

Their findings will be published in Children, Youth and Environments (Vol. 16:1). From the Cornell Press release: "Our study indicates that participating in wild nature activities before age 11 is a particularly potent pathway toward shaping both environmental attitudes and behaviors in adulthood," said Wells, whose previous studies have found that nature around a home can help protect children against life stress and boost children's cognitive functioning. When children become truly engaged with the natural world at a young age, the experience is likely to stay with them in a powerful way -- shaping their subsequent environmental path," she added. Read More!

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