The Cool Factor – How Do We Get Kids to Want to Spend Time in Nature?


I’m at the Children & Nature Network’s Equity Roundtable in Sheperdstown, West Virginia.  We’re at the National Conservation Training Center, which is a beautiful facility in natural setting managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The focus of the roundtable is “All Kids Need Nature.”  Yesterday, we used open space to generate discussion topics.  I suggested “How do we make nature cool for kids?”  We had a very active conversation, filling up three big sheets of paper with ideas.  After a break, a bunch of us reviewed and distilled the session output into the challenge, concepts and action items.  As a group, we presented our work as a group this morning:

How can we make Nature cool and appealing for all kids?


  • Edgy, extreme nature, fear (e.g., night walks)
  • Technology as a doorway or springboard
  • Media, arts, entertainment, celebrities
  • Targeted marketing – learn from corporations
  • Identity, who do you want to be?, jobs, advocations, opportunities
  • Games, competition, challenge

Action items

  1. Create surveys for and do focus groups with kids between 8-14 years old
  2. Diverse youth spokespeople
  3. Put the thrill back into nature (fear, challenge, competition, interact with creatures)
  4. Create opportunities for youth to do what they want in nature (dance, ciphers, music)
The roundtable ends midday today. In the afternoon, the Grassroots Gathering of the Children & Nature Network begins.  I am excited because our book, EP, Kickstarter flyer and letter will be given to all 140 attendees!

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