The Need for Nature
“The natural world’s benefits to our cognition and health will be irrelevant if we continue to destroy the nature around us, but that destruction is assured without a human reconnection to nature.”
– Richard Louv, Author of Last Child in the Woods
Plants play many important roles in our everyday lives: providing fuel, food, medicine, shelter, beauty, fragrance, fabric and more to a growing world population. Our dependence on plants is paramount, yet it is estimated that one in five plant species is facing extinction. Now more than ever, establishing an appreciation for plants and nature is critical if we are to protect them for future generations.
Connection with nature has a more immediate impact too – on our health and wellness. Nature deficiency is associated with childhood obesity, diabetes, attention-deficit disorder, myopia, depression, heightened aggression, stress, poor school performance, and decreased cognitive ability. Conversely, kids who spend more time outside see improved cognitive and problem solving skills, perform better in school, are more physically fit, and suffer from lower rates of depression and anxiety. Yet, despite the health benefits, the average American child spends only 4 minutes a day exploring the natural world around them. Today’s children and families are missing the experiences in nature which are crucial to developing healthy bodies and minds, as well as to developing an understanding and appreciation of the natural world around them — a critical foundation for future stewardship ethics.
The San Antonio Botanical Garden is a natural and critical partner in efforts to engage children in the natural world. Local school systems need access to high quality outdoor learning environments and educational programs aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) Standards, as well as content training for teachers to support their professional development and ability to help students meet state standards. Families, too, need support as they learn together about the importance of plants and how time spent in nature can improve their health, wellness, and social connections. The Garden provides safe, accessible, and enjoyable opportunities for children and adults to understand and appreciate our natural resources and engage in long-lasting, environmental stewardship.