NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Breathing fresh air is endorsed by the Texas Children In Nature Network. That's a state initiative which brings together 300 organizations, including Stephen F. Austin State University, to promote outdoor education.
Nacogdoches Boys and Girls Club members learn about the great outdoors all year long thanks to SFA's help with an after-school program.
"So what did we decide this look like?" said an outdoor educator talking to a group of kids. "Looks like dough. Okay, we're going to pour this dough right in here."
It's exactly the kind of outdoor education Jennifer Bristol likes to focus on as state coordinator of the Texas Children in Nature Network.
"In 2009, a bipartisan group got together and said this is really important that we need to get more kids and families interacting with nature," Bristol said.
Texas Parks and Wildlife leads the initiative. Network members know while these children are learning to cook outdoors and carry backpacks, many of their friends are indoors.
"Children today are spending between seven and 11 hours indoors, sedentary with media," Bristol said.
Studies show the outdoors helps kids be healthier, happier and smarter by lowering the obesity rate and depression.
"So this is kinda a backpacking oven that's very light," the outdoor educator told the children.
SFA helped the Children in Nature Network write a strategic plan. The university's outdoor educators implement it with all sort of fun events.
"The plant sale is on April 2," said Elyce Rodewald, the education coordinator for SFA Gardens. "The Little Princess Tea Party and Forestry Day also on April 9."
It's part of the solution of connecting children and adults to the natural world around them, which can be found as close as their backyard or a nearby park.
There's still time to join an interactive discussion on outdoor education, as well as fun, nature-based activities led by SFA students and staff. It begins at 7 p.m. at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center on Raguet Street.