For decades the National Wildlife Federation has worked to connect children and youth with nature, inspiring children through Ranger Rick® magazine, working with educators to get kids learning outdoors, and helping parents find new ways to engage their children outside.
Today the amount of time kids spend outside is alarmingly low—only minutes per day—while screen time is at an all-time high. The National Wildlife Federation has set a new goal to stem the tide and move kids back outdoors.
Our three-year goal is to get 21 million American children, teens, and young adults out of their indoor habitat and into the great outdoors. This goal propels us toward a future in which all kids spend time outside each day, creating a generation of happier, healthier children with more awareness and connection to the natural world.
The National Wildlife Federation’s Green Hour program is designed to encourage, parents, schools, childcare centers, park agencies, camps, grandparents, and others to adopt a goal of an hour per day of time for children to play and learn outdoors in nature.
The idea of a "green" hour comes from research on creative play and health by the Centers for Disease Control and the Academy of America Pediatrics. Research also shows the best way to connect young people to a lifelong concern for nature, wildlife, and the outdoors is through regular positive experiences.
Green Hour program resources:
The National Wildlife Federation is working with the major influencers of children's time to make the outdoors a bigger part of their everyday lives.
Working with Teachers and Youth Organizations
The National Wildlife Federation seeks to provide ongoing nature and outdoor programming to schools, childcare centers, park agencies, and other institutions to create a lasting base of environmental literacy, stewardship, and problem-solving skills. Schools and community-based organizations across the country are incorporating regular time for outdoor learning and play, using the National Wildlife Federation's Schoolyard Habitats®, Eco-Schools USA program, and opportunities such as tree planting events with Trees for Wildlife™. The National Wildlife Federation also offers educational resources such as lesson plans, curriculum, and webinars for connecting kids and nature.
Inspiring Parents and Caregivers
Through resources like our Ranger Rick® magazines and practical tool and tips, as well as special events, we aim to instill a love of nature in children and help parents incorporate regular outdoor time into their children's days.
Influencing Policy Makers
Working with National Wildlife Federation affiliates and other partners, we are making sure our decision makers recognize the integral role outdoor time plays in the health and well-being of our nation's kids and our environment, advocating for them to pass policies that help children, youth, and families spend regular time outdoors.
The nature of childhood has changed. American childhood has moved indoors during the last two decades, taking a mental and physical toll on today’s kids. The negative impact of decreased time outdoors includes a doubling of the childhood obesity rate—accompanied by an incremental hundred billion dollar cost to our health care system—as well as declining creativity, concentration, and social skills.
Connecting children and nature has important health benefits. Studies show outdoor time helps children grow lean and strong, enhances imaginations and attention spans, decreases aggression, and boosts classroom performance. In addition, children who spend time in nature regularly are shown to become better stewards of the environment.
Fast Facts: Outdoor Time and Children
The National Wildlife Federation has a number of programs designed to inspire kids to get outdoors, help wildlife, and become more aware of nature in their neighborhood and community.
Turning K-12 Schools Green
Through student-driven action teams, the Eco-Schools USA program brings effective "green" management to school grounds, facilities, and curriculum. This international initiative not only helps schools reduce their carbon footprint, but it inspires kids to be good stewards for the environment and take action in their community.
Organizing Youth Around Service Learning Projects
Earth Tomorrow is the National Wildlife Federation’s multicultural, youth environmental education and leadership development program, creating opportunities for underserved youth to develop environmental literacy and life skills and make valuable contributions to the ecological health and leadership of their communities.
Empowering People to Restore Habitat
Gardening for wildlife is a perfect way to share your love of the outdoors with children and foster a future connection to nature. The National Wildlife Federation provides tips, resources, and a Certified Wildlife Habitat® program specially designed around wildlife gardening at home, school, and in communities.
Helping Schools, Families, and Groups Plant Trees
Trees for Wildlife™ educates youth about the the essential role habitat trees play for wildlife in our environment. Inspired by Pulitzer Prize winner Wangari Maathai, the program provides volunteer opportunities and the tools for families and schools to successfully make a difference for wildlife through tree planting.
Looking for more ways to get kids outside?
Nature Play Spaces
Discover how we're helping restore children’s relationship with nature by bringing back places to play and learn.
Health Benefits and Tips
Learn how the advantages of getting kids in nature are evident in body, mind, and spirit.
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President and CEO Collin O’Mara reveals in a TEDx Talk why it is essential to connect our children and future generations with wildlife and the outdoors—and how doing so is good for our health, economy, and environment.Watch Now
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More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.