Billings-area youth are failing to connect with nature. Research suggests that limited outdoor experiences hamper the physical and emotional development of children. Many families do not have the resources, equipment, time to enrich the lives of their children by introducing them to the natural environment. Consequently, children are missing out on the natural wonders of earth. As conservationists we know that instilling a conservation ethic in our youth is essential for saving the planet.
Our Nature Play Area will include an exploratory tunnel, life-like permanent bird nests, drums in a musical area, and benches for rest & reflection. Made of natural components, like rocks & hillocks, the area will represent a larger wild environment in a way which feels safe and manageable for young visitors. Ultimately, our new Shepard Nature Play Space will encourage many thousands of children to confidently explore as they gain skills and develop a lasting affinity for the natural world.
The Montana Audubon Center's Shepard Nature Play Space, and adjacent areas of natural habitat, free and accessible to the public, is located within a rapidly growing urban community. Its close proximity to Billings' low-income south-side district provides meaningful, year-round environmental science and outdoor recreation for at-risk youth. Low income students and families benefit. Diverse experiences are provided to connect with nature and each other--a win for the whole community.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).
Montana Audubon Center website
Nature Play Space Information
Montana Audubon Facebook Page