Fostering a Lifelong Fascination with Nature
There’s a new crisis in our midst: kids spending too much time indoors and online. There’s even a name for the condition – Nature Deficit Disorder.
Coined by journalist and author Richard Louv, the need to connect our children with the great outdoors became even more pronounced during and after the pandemic. The average American child today spends less than ten minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play but over seven hours a day in front of a screen, according to Stanford Health News.
According to a 2019 study by Aarhus University, kids who had grown up around the lowest levels of vegetation had up to a 50% higher risk of developing a psychiatric disorder. These children were also at higher risk for mood disorders and substance abuse. Mounting evidence from dozens of researchers shows that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human well-being.
Kids simply have to get back out into nature.
And that’s exactly what NatureTrack, a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit, does. Founded in 2011 by Sue Eisaguirre, NatureTrack is every school-age child’s invitation to get out into the natural world.
The organization takes kindergarten through 12th-grade students on docent-led outdoor field trips ranging from hiking local trails, to spending time in oak woodlands and coastal sage scrub, to exploring beaches and botanical gardens, and other local ecosystems. Direct communication with teachers ensures each field trip will supplement in-classroom learning. NatureTrack docents lead small groups and share their enthusiasm and love of the outdoors as they engage the kids in a variety of fun and educational activities while on the trails or beaches. And every field trip, including transportation, is completely free.
“The students are finding out just how FUN nature can be, and at the same time, learning,” Eisaguirre says. “Fostering a fascination with nature is our overarching goal. We’re creating stewards of our natural resources. They’ll want to protect what they now understand and enjoy.”
To date, the nonprofit and its 100 dedicated volunteer docents have taken more than 30,000 students on field trips. And no volunteer, teacher, or student is left behind as NatureTrack also offers Freedom Trax for wheelchair users or others with mobility disabilities. By attaching Freedom Trax to their manual wheelchair, all types of terrain are now accessible to them. They can traverse beach sand and rocky trails with their classmates, colleagues, and fellow docents.
“Most of my students have never been on a hike and marveled at all they experienced during their NatureTrack field trip… Without NatureTrack, these students would not get the opportunity to gain new insights and experiences such as these,” says Anna Mudge, a math and science teacher at Maple High School, in a letter she wrote praising NatureTrack to the California Coastal Commission.
NatureTrack is determined to continue nurturing kids by taking them out into nature.
Founder & Executive Director: Sue Eisaguirre
NatureTrack is a 501(c)3 non-profit whose mission is to provide outdoor field trips for school-aged children at no cost to the schools or students.
Begin to Build a Relationship
We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s director of development and/or Executive Director.
We both know it is vital for our young generation to be out in nature and experience what nature offers. Seeing the excitement on students’ faces and their reactions to natural discoveries is always a joy. We enjoy being out on the trails and beaches, sharing nature at the moment with future stewards of our natural world.
For the Love of Nature
Transportation costs have increased significantly. In order to keep NatureTrack outdoor field trips cost-free for everyone, we need your help. Every donation you make will help us connect more kids and wheelchair users to nature.
$1,000 – Pays for 15 students to take a field trip (including transportation)
$2,500 – Pays for 35 students to take a field trip (including transportation)
$5,000 – Pays for 70 students to take a field trip (including transportation)
$6,300 – Buys 1 FreedomTrax device
PRICELESS – Becoming a NatureTrack volunteer! Join us. We have as much fun as the students!
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