“The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.” Richard Louv – The Nature Principle
Engaging the community in nature
Whether from a community group, volunteers or professionals, environmental educators engage the community in nature, about nature and for nature. We understand the power of living in nature—not with it, but in it. We know that people who care for the local environment are deeply connected to their place and nature. Read on for suggestions and examples, useful resources, and ways to get involved...
How do we do it?
Our skills and knowledge are about:
- immersing people in nature, and encouraging a sense of freedom and play
- connecting people with their local environment, and empowering them to get involved e.g. as citizen scientists
- facilitating groups in an outdoors environment
- recognising local Indigenous culture – past, present and future
- using technology for education.
AAEE NSW delivered a terrific community nature education project (Nature Connect) that aimed to help NSW environmental educators share and improve their skills and knowledge about connecting the community to place and nature. This project was supported by the NSW Government through an Environmental Trust ‘Lead Environmental Community Groups’ (LECG) grant. The project was primarily based in the Hunter Region and saw educators from early learning centres and schools come together to discuss ways to help their students connect with nature.
AAEE NSW delivered Take Me Outside NSW, based on the successful Canadian project, to help support educators across the state get kids outside. Resources from Take Me Outside NSW are available here.
We have collated a range of links and resources to help educators integrate nature education into their programs. If you know of other resources we could add to this page, please contact us.
Examples of projects and activities
- Community organisations - CEN, Centre for Ecological Learning
- Not-for-profits - BirdLife Australia citizen science; Planet Ark Tree Day
- State government - National Parks and Wildlife Service guided walks
- Local Government - Gosford City Council’s Family Nature Club
- Statutory authorities - Centennial Parklands Bush School; Botanic Gardens tours and walks
- Outdoor education companies - Project Nature-Ed, Land’s Edge, Total Eco Adventures
- Local city farms & community gardens
- Permaculture Groups across the country - Permaculture Australia
- International projects - the PLACE program; IUCN’s CEC; WatershED Matters
Got something to add to this list? Contact us with your suggestions
Great books/ articles/ videos
Identifying plants and animals - a dwindling skillset?
- The Nature Principle (a powerful call to action— about adults and nature)
- Last Child in the Woods (Lov’s first book, which coined the phrase ‘nature deficit disorder’)
- YouTube lecture - Place-based education
Jon Young - Coytote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature
John Fien - Learning to Care: Education and Compassion
Daniella Tilbury & David Wortman - Engaging People in Sustainability
Nikki Harre - Psychology for a Better World
Needing trees – the nature of happiness Planet Ark research
IUCN’S Love not Loss education campaign