Connecting Children to Nature

by Inside the Outdoors Foundation
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Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Connecting Children to Nature
Nature's Outdoor Classroom
Nature's Outdoor Classroom

A 2010-14 breakdown by the U.S. Forest Service of visitors to national forests and wilderness areas shows a low percentage of diverse populations getting outdoors:

* American Indian or Alaska Native = 2.3% national forests and 1.7% wilderness;

* Asian = 2.3% national forests and 3.1% wilderness;

* Black or African-American = 1.2% national forests and 0.7% wilderness;

* Hawaiian or Pacific Islander = 1.2% national forests and 0.7% wilderness;

* White = 94.9% national forest and 95.6% wilderness;

* Spanish, Hispanic or Latino = 5.5% national forest and 5.9% wilderness.

Inside the Outdoors (ITO) is doing its part to change that by offering multicultural education to provide K-12 students and families from diverse communities with an equal opportunity to learn in a unique outdoor environment.  Inside the Outdoors Foundation supports these programs by providing sponsorships to 60% of the participants through grant acquired funding from corporate and private funders, foundations and contracts.

Richard Louv, Co-founder and Chairman Emeritus, Children & Nature Network and author of, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder and The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age, in his commentary on The New Nature Movement, wrote “Natural places can give people a sense of peace, meaning, security, not only in wilderness, but in the most densely populated urban neighborhood. I’ve called this phenomenon human/nature social capital.”

Inside the Outdoors programs (Field Trips: 15 locations, Traveling Scientist: 18 programs, Service-Learning: variety and Community Events & Volunteer Days: multiple) support and provide multicultural education in the following ways:

        Creating a welcoming, inclusive environment

  • Participation creates a common ground by providing experiences that are new to everyone regardless of their cultural background
  • Staff foster an atmosphere of cooperation and tolerance
  • Students are expected to show respect for the earth, living things they encounter through an ITO program, and also for each other as individuals
  • ITO staff are diverse in gender, age and cultural background
  • Long-term partnerships with Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles County schools increase parent confidence and student participation
  • ITO materials reflect a diverse population

Incorporating educational best practices for English learners and diverse cultures

  • Hands-on, minds-on curriculum addresses multiple learning styles: kinesthetic, tactile, visual, auditory, musical
  • Scaffolding: connecting the learning to students’ prior knowledge and experience
  • Cooperative learning and peer-to-peer teaching involve all students
  • EPR – Every Pupil Responds: students are encouraged to “show” their answer as a group using hand signs
  • “Wait time” for responses is built into questions to allow all students time to process the question and come up with an answer
  • Curricular materials are designed to reflect a diverse population and use visuals to complement the words used 

Creating multiple access points for community engagement

  • Field Trips and Community Events are held in a wide variety of locations, allowing each participant to access environmental education in the way that is most convenient and compelling to them
  • ITO aggressively pursues funding to keep costs down and reach out to low income students
  • Service-Learning changes education into action and brings it back to the families and communities
  • Collaboration with Orange County schools with diverse multicultural populations of students and educators increase ITO’s ability to provide relevant content

Research confirms what we already know… experiences outdoors have a positive impact on the development of the whole child.  Dr. Lawrence Rosen, an integrative pediatrician and founder of one of the country’s first “green” pediatric practices, The Whole Child Center, published an article in Mind Body Green titled, 7 Science-Backed Reasons To Get Your Kids Outside, which provides compelling insight from encouraging exercise to reducing anxiety, building a sense of community and deeper connections with family to increased intelligence.  The reason that excites us most is that childhood exposure to natural settings is associated with a greater interest in environmental stewardship — and ultimately with pursuing professional careers and adult hobbies connected to nature and the environment.

Discovering adaptations of tidepool organisms
Discovering adaptations of tidepool organisms
School Gardens - connecting the campus to learning
School Gardens - connecting the campus to learning
Students conduct water quality experiments
Students conduct water quality experiments
Reading food labels and making healthier choices
Reading food labels and making healthier choices
Exploration Hike - look for clues of animal life
Exploration Hike - look for clues of animal life
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Wildflower Butterfly Garden starter kits
Wildflower Butterfly Garden starter kits

On Sunday, August 16, 2015, Inside the Outdoors Foundation partnered with Disney Citizenship and Disney VoluntEARS at the D23 Expo to host a volunteer project involving guests at the event.  Attendees worked their way through an assembly line constructing 3,500 wildflower butterfly garden started kits and picked up water saving tip materials and resources, provided by the Municipal Water District of Orange County and Anaheim Public Utilities, along the way.  These kits, including California native butterfly mix seeds, peat pots, soil pellets and growing and planting instructions, were also hand decorated by D23 patrons. 

The Wildflower Butterfly Garden starter kits will be donated to schools in underserved communities to be used as a fundraising option.  All proceeds from the sale of the starter kits will be used to support student field trips and activities providing powerful hands-on experiences that leave children with a lifelong enthusiasm for the environment. 

Watch the wonder of nature come alive in your garden.  Each started kit includes water-wise tips and resources and the following information:

Why do butterflies matter?

Butterflies vivid wing coloration and fluttering flight path lend a special touch of beauty to nature.  However, butterflies do more than just paint a pretty picture.  They help flower pollinate, eat weed plants and provide a food source for other animals.  Their presence or absence can also tell us a lot about the local environment.

Butterflies are indicators of a healthy environment and healthy ecosystems.  Like bees and other pollinators, butterflies pick up pollen while they sip a flower’s nectar.  Once they’re off to another plant, the pollen goes with them, helping pollinate the plant species.  One third of the food we eat depends on the work of pollinators such as butterflies.

Why are native plants important to water conservation?

North American native plants are disappearing at an alarming rate due to human activities, urban development, and the introduction of invasive species.  The loss of native plant communities has reduced wildlife habitat and the genetic diversity necessary for balanced ecosystems. 

Native wildflowers, such as Goldfields, Plantain, Sky Lupine and Owl’s Clover, do much more than add beauty to the landscape.  These plants help conserve water, provide habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife, protect the soil and save money by reducing maintenance costs and the need for fertilizer and pesticides.

Native plants are easier to grow because they are already adapted to the soil and climate of California and their water needs are more in balance with what nature provides.  Replacing a portion of your lawn with native plants can save 120 gallons of watering for every 1000 s/f of turf removed, which is equivalent to (4) six-minute showers.

Inside the Outdoors Foundation is grateful to all of our partners on this project for helping to build environmental stewards for tomorrow.

D23 Expo visitors volunteer to support students
D23 Expo visitors volunteer to support students
Sponsorship to support K-12 environmental programs
Sponsorship to support K-12 environmental programs
3,500 kits scheduled to be delivered to schools
3,500 kits scheduled to be delivered to schools
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Thumbprint Tree
Thumbprint Tree

Along with help from Inside the Outdoors Foundation, Disney VoluntEARS, Anaheim Public Utilities and others, the Anaheim City School District (ACSD) hosted its 1st Annual International Arts Festival on May 6, 2015 at Lincoln Elementary School.

The turnout and energy was phenomenal.  An estimated 2500 Anaheim City School District students, families and community members attended the afternoon and evening festivities which included an Inside the Outdoors Foundation booth providing fun and creative arts-infused science education, and a water conservation element in partnership with Anaheim Public Utilities.

The Inside the Outdoors (ITO) booth was quite a natural fit to the arts festival.  Disney VoluntEARS were on hand to help with activities, including making a water cycle bracelet by giving context to students on the stages of the water cycle with each colored bead added.

Yellow (The Sun): Creates all of the weather on Earth through the uneven heating of the Earth’s surface

Clear (Evaporation): Liquid water is heated by the sun until it rises as water vapor into the atmosphere.

Gray (Condensation): Water vapor molecules join together, becoming liquid in the form of clouds.

Blue (Precipitation): Water falling to Earth in the form of weather (including rain, sleet, hail and snow).

Brown (Groundwater): Water found beneath the Earth’s surface.

Green (Transpiration): The evaporation of water through plants. Water enters the plant through the roots, moves up into the plant and then exits through the leaves of he plant.

In addition, the ITO booth provided an environmental activity where kids created works of art featuring trees from around the world by adding thumbprint leaves onto the canvas, and learned how much rainfall those places get compared to Anaheim, CA.  The artwork will be donated to schools in the district and auctioned off to raise funds for Arts education in the schools. “From the caves of Lascaux to La Mer to Lincoln Elementary School’s thumbprint trees, art has always been a way to validate and celebrate our fascination and close relationship with the natural world”, stated by Inside the Outdoors Foundation President, Manny Kiesser.

A further budding relationship between Inside the Outdoors and the Municipal Water District of Orange County provided a food for thought activity, “Have a Drink of Hamburger”, where the community learned how much water goes into making a single hamburger – 698½ total gallons. Most didn’t consider that water is used in each step of the overall process, from raising cattle for the meat to the wheat grown to make the bun to all the fixings.

Anaheim Public Utilities provided bags and Water Wise tips and the Disney Environmental Integration team provided giveaways such as, Care for the Earth and Get Moving wristbands, Enviornmentality activity books, Get Out & Get Moving guides and a Nature’s Treasures worksheet. These materials engaged both students and families in protecting our planet.

The well organized and executed event was a wonderful celebration of students, and by students, acknowledging that ACSD heard the community’s call for more arts and environmental science education for their kids – and are doing something about it.  Dozens of youth artwork was displayed throughout the festival and nearly 350 student performers in dance and music wowed the crowds.

We are so grateful for the continuous support of your team at Inside the Outdoors. Your presence at our most recent event was yet another great success and demonstration of your organization's commitment to building and strengthening the Anaheim community through educationSincere thanks!" - Linda Wagner, Superintendent, Anaheim City School District

Art and Science pairing has amazing possibilities along with a wonder-filled relationship between schools, communities and corporate agencies. Inside the Outdoors Foundation is committed to helping build partnerships and environmental stewards for tomorrow by continuing to explore creativity.

Skins and skulls of native animals
Skins and skulls of native animals
Guess the native animal and their adaptations
Guess the native animal and their adaptations
Water Cycle Bracelet
Water Cycle Bracelet
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Outdoor living laboratory
Outdoor living laboratory

Programs including students, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and stewardship improve education outcomes and build leadership skills for youth. Inside the Outdoors is in its third year of partnering with the Orange County Department of Education’s alternative education students at Sunburst Youth ChalleNGe Academy (SYCA), and multiple community partners to inspire youth people to discover, engage in and advocate for the environment. Traveling Scientist classroom visits, Field Trips, Service-Leaning community projects, and advocacy connect classroom learning through STEM-focused environmental education.

Alternative education teacher Mike Gill described that the Inside the Outdoors STEM-learning interactive field trips connected his students to learning in a powerful way. “It was like a light bulb going off. My students realized that they could learn and it changed them,” Michael shared. During the three year partnership, over 1,000 at-risk youth from SYCA have benefited through a 20% increase in assessment scores in science, technology, engineering and math. Overall, academic knowledge in STEM disciplines increased 53% in male students and 100% in female students documented by pre- and –post assessment data.

These students are documented as “at-risk” and have little success learning in a traditional educational environment, the learning environment being provided with the assistance of a grant by the TK Foundation chances their previous learning failures into successes. Having a visual tactile interface (iPads) and using them in the field engages these students in a deeper way than traditional classroom activities. In addition to field study, iPads were used with a downloaded educational app to dissect frogs virtually, allowing students the experience where a live animal lab was not possible. As a result, students began to make connections to the usage of technology in real life practical ways as well as considering possible careers in Science and Engineering fields.

 

SUCCESSES:

Field Trips

Students visited various field sites throughout Orange County. Popular among students was the Live Animal station where participants saw and touched a live mammal and reptile representative of animals in this ecosystem and learn how their adaptations enable them to survive. Continuing their learning, students explored local ecology in the pristine environment of Rancho Sonado represented by a pond, a riparian area, oak woodland, and chaparral making discoveries through hands-on activities.

Traveling Scientist

Students explored various STEM topics through hands-on labs. These programs provided hands-on opportunities for students to develop an awareness and appreciation of the sciences through the exploration of the animal kingdom and physical science concepts while fostering a commitment to the protection and understanding of the environment and community. One of the favorite lessons expressed by students was the Traveling Scientist live animal study. A Hawk, an owl and other raptors were brought into the classroom to teach students about the roles these predators play in nature. Students visited lab stations to experience hawk vision and discovered the diet of an owl through an owl pellet dissection. A student was noted as saying “When I see the Traveling Scientist from Inside the Outdoors I know it is going to be a good day.”

Service-Learning

A minimum of 40 hours of community service was required of each student attending Sunburst Youth ChalleNGe Academy. Many students volunteered their time to install and nurture a demonstration garden at the SYCA location. In addition, SYCA students worked alongside community members and mentors from Disney, Boeing and Simple Green restoring habitat at the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge for a National Public Lands Day event.

Highlight:

A male student from Sunburst Youth ChalleNGe Academy shared that the Field Trips, Traveling Scientist sessions and Service-Learning projects made such an impact on his life that he wants to get his younger brother involved with Inside the Outdoors programs to ensure that he has opportunities to keep out of trouble by making a difference in his community and seeing the possibilities of a future in the field of science. His goal is to save enough money to send his younger brother to ITO’s week-long Summer Day Camp in 2015.

Water testing at Caspers Wilderness Park
Water testing at Caspers Wilderness Park
Learning about native wildlife - Acorn the Opossum
Learning about native wildlife - Acorn the Opossum
Ball Python - Pickles
Ball Python - Pickles
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Inside the Outdoors Youth Stewardship Council
Inside the Outdoors Youth Stewardship Council

Inside the Outdoors (ITO) Youth Stewardship Council (YSC) Service-Learning programs address the need for environmental education and natural resource conservation by using real life experiences that turn classroom lessons into action and engage students in environmental stewardship.  YSC builds a foundation first through environmental education focused on natural resource conservation.  Education turns into action through environmental Service-Learning projects that benefit the schools and the community.  YSC allows youth to develop the business, social responsibility, and collaboration skills needed to be leaders in the global economy. 

YSC encompasses meaningful service involving student leaders of similar age and passion in every aspect of a project from the pilot to full implementation.   Students determine what is relevant to them, work with mentors and subject matter experts to identify a plan, and then implement the project.  The environmental issues they are addressing are global issues that are impacting their communities, as well.  Participation in YSC also allows youth to create a forum and resources that will be relevant to young people nationally.

YSC was piloted in 2012 with four schools and has since grown to ten schools, benefiting over 25,000 youth and community members.  Each school has planned and implemented a campus or community project benefiting the environment.  Projects include school gardens, composting, recycling programs, campus and community restoration, to name a few.

 “Service-Learning projects have helped me recognize and better understand my own strengths and weaknesses.  Throughout the process, I’ve also learned that, no matter my age, I do have the ability to make a significant and worthwhile change in my community.”

The quote and actions of Allison, a Senior at Mission Viejo HS, and other Inside the Outdoors Youth Stewardship Council (YSC) members inspired State Farm to fund a large grant expanding the Service-Learning and leadership program to additional students and schools in Orange County.

On November 22, 2014, The State Farm Youth Advisory Board and the local State Farm team presented a check to the YSC at a Kick-Off event in Silverado Canyon.  Assembly member Don Wagner and a representative from Supervisor Todd Spitzer's office attended the event in support of the environmental stewardship these youth are leading.

More than 30 students were on hand representing ten high schools in Orange County.  The YSC Kick-Off event treated students to three engaging activities that sparked their interest and creativity in making a difference through stewardship of the environment.  Activity one included an exploration hike where students looked for clues of plant and animal life. Scat, tracks, and other evidence helped them learn about predators and prey.  Through this interactive exercise, they learned how Native Americans used the plants for food, medicine, and tools, and how animals use the plants for food and shelter.  Students also saw and touched a live mammal and reptile representative of animals in this ecosystem and learned how their adaptations enable them to survive.  Activity two spotlighted Aria and Allison, Mission Viejo high school H.O.P. (Help Our Planet) club leaders where they highlighted the process of establishing a successful recycling program at their school.  The long-term goal of the recycling program is to see the school have zero waste- no recycling, no trash, no food waste, thus reducing the amount of materials in the landfill and creating a community that sustains itself.  Activity three was presented by Christiane Maertens, Deputy Director of North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE).  Ms. Maertens is dedicated to inspiring and empowering youth and educators through environmental education and facilitated a discussion with YSC students on community organizing and engagement in environmental stewardship projects.

Continued support from generous donors makes it possible for students like Allison to recognize their own potential.

Campus Clean-up
Campus Clean-up
MVHS recycling program student-led presentation
MVHS recycling program student-led presentation
Environmental Exploration Hike
Environmental Exploration Hike
Outdoor teaching lab
Outdoor teaching lab

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Organization Information

Inside the Outdoors Foundation

Location: Silverado, Ca - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @itofoundation@yahoo.com
Project Leader:
Lori Kiesser
Program Development Manager
Costa Mesa, California United States
$13,805 raised of $50,000 goal
 
180 donations
$36,195 to go
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