The Mountain Times

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Growing Up Wild program connects children with nature

Children have become increasingly disconnected with nature. Most children can easily identify hundreds of corporate logos but cannot identify more than a handful of the plants and animals in their own backyard, according to the Children in Nature Network.

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is giving a new type of workshop that aims to combat this trend and reconnect Vermont's young children with nature. The program, entitled Growing Up WILD: Exploring Nature with Young Children, teaches early childhood educators how to incorporate nature and wildlife into their daily lesson plans. This project is modeled on three similar programs offered by the Fish & Wildlife Department, Project WILD, Flying WILD, and Aquatic WILD.

"We're building on the success of our other WILD training workshops," said Ali Thomas, education coordinator for the Fish & Wildlife Department. "Those projects were designed for teachers and environmental educators teaching K-12 students, while the new Growing Up WILD program is geared towards curriculum for younger children."

Growing Up WILD was developed with the vision of expanding the culture of early childhood education to embrace learning in the outdoors. According to the program's website, Growing Up WILD "builds on children's sense of wonder about nature and invites them to explore wildlife and the world around them."

"The program's activities are fun and easy," added Thomas. "They creatively address concepts in science, physical education, and literature though activities such as outdoor explorations and art projects. Whether you're a school teacher or an educator at a nature center, this guide is an effective teaching resource in any setting."

For more information, visit www.projectwild.org/growingupwild.htm

To schedule a workshop, contact Ali Thomas at 802-371-9975 or alison.thomas@state.vt.us.