America’s Great Outdoors: Connecting Kids, Colbert to Nature

Presidential Initiative Seeks to Map Out Nation’s Conservation Priorities

10-08-2010 // Danielle Moodie-Mills, NWF Sr. Mgr. of Environmental Education Campaigns
Lake Michigan with skyscrapers in the background

As the fall foliage begins its takeover of Washington, D.C., we inch closer to President Obama’s November 15 deadline for a report on America’s Great Outdoors (AGO). 

President Barack Obama's AGO initiative aims to create a new agenda for conservation and growth in the 21st century.  This past summer, AGO “listening sessions” were held all across the country, to gather comments about America’s conservation priorities—ranging in topic from connecting to nature to protecting public lands to conserving water and wildlife in the face of climate change. 

Chicago listening session makes the connection between health and nature

On August 31 in Chicago, the Department of Health and Human Services hosted the first-ever listening session dedicated to health and the great outdoors.  With the leadership of NWF and other leading conservation organizations, the event highlighted the importance of the outdoors in improving the country’s public health.  The session was attended by doctors, environmentalists, and members of the Obama administration. 

Speaking during the first panel session, Michael Suk, M.D., spoke to the importance of “prescribing nature” as a way to deal with many health ailments that require expensive medication that may mitigate the health problem; but not the cause of such issues as high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and obesity.

“Doctors tell you to exercise for 30 minutes a day, but they don’t tell you where to go. This [initiative] is the synergy of health promotion we are looking for between health and the outdoors…you don’t need a gym to get in shape,” said Dr. Suk. 

Last month, Comedy Central television show host Stephen Colbert joined the fight to protect America's Great Outdoors.  Visit to see what Colbert says about conservation. 

Dozens of locations hosted AGO listening sessions this past summer, including:

Visit to learn more.

Subscribe to Ranger Rick Magazines today!