Texas Children in Nature Network
In the early 2000’s research was emerging that showed that children were spending less time in the outdoors and more time with media; while at the same time childhood obesity rates were increasing at an alarming rate. Within just a matter of one generation, our society was radically changing to an increasingly indoor focused world for our children. Author Richard Louv published his watershed book, Last Child in The Woods; Saving Children from Nature Deficit Disorder in 2005 that gave a voice to the issue and launched a grassroots movement to address it.
In fall 2009, a bipartisan group of Texas legislators requested that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, along with the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Texas Department of Agriculture form a public-private partnership to develop a strategic plan. Over 80 professionals including representatives from state and federal agencies, NGOs, health, education, natural resources, community organizations, and businesses answered the call and formed the Texas Partnership for Children in Nature.
Carter Smith, executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, chaired the effort. In January 2010, a 17-member Texas Steering Committee representing four state agencies, NGOs, health, education, and business convened to establish a work plan and stakeholder teams. The focus areas were Education, Health, Access and Community, and later, Marketing and Policy/Legislative.
The strategic plan was released in 2010 at the Children in Nature Summit held in Austin, TX. At that time the Action Committees decided to focus on forming regional collaboratives that would work locally with their communities to further the goals laid out in the strategic plan. Regional collaboratives were formed in Austin, Caprock, Coastal Bend, Houston, North Texas, Pineywoods, Rio Grande Valley, and San Antonio.
We are a grassroots network of over 600 partner organizations and individuals who are working together to connect children and families with nature in Texas. Each partner brings their unique perspective and solutions to the network. The website www.naturerockstexas.org was created by TCiNN to connect families with partner’s programs, events and nature spaces, and to support the regional collaboratives.
TCiNN is guided by a steering committee of 20 individuals from around the state that represent: environmental education, parks and recreation, hunting and fishing, formal education, health and wellness, youth development and the national Children & Nature Network.
You can get involved with a regional collaborative or at the state level by contacting the state coordinator at email@example.com.