Voices: A Sense of Insight

Cheadle Center for Biodiversity: Andy Lane


I believe that society’s disconnect with nature is the root cause of many social, cultural, and environmental problems. Though many of the more pressing problems need immediate action, proper education is the most effective solution for preventing similar or lasting problems in the future. Not surprisingly, societal and cultural shifts toward urbanization have recently sparked a greater interest in outdoor education. Mainstream media and technology bombard children with images of violence and ideas of consumption, while outdoor education programs struggle to reconnect kids with nature.

The current structures of the majority of education systems hinder creativity and discourage relationships with nature. It is saddening that many children and young adults would prefer sitting inside in front of a computer or playing video games, to playing outside and exploring. Kids are taught the names of video game characters and pop stars while valuable knowledge of the natural world
is never shared.

While the list of detriments due to a disconnection with nature is long, the list of benefits from a meaningful relationship with nature is even longer. The Kids in Nature (KIN) program at CCBER teaches children that relationships can be forged with nature. Touching cold sand, listening to shorebirds, smelling sage plants, watching flowers bloom or tasting nectar are lasting experiences not taught in classrooms or accessed via a computer.

My personal affinity for nature-education may stem from my parents, both teachers, and who influenced me significantly. I’ve always enjoyed working with kids, and learning about the natural environment has always been a passion, not just a possible career. For me, Kids In Nature brings the two together.


CCBER Records


The etymology of the word “education” is especially relevant. “Education” comes from the Latin root educare, which means to draw out or lead forth. Kids In Nature returns education to its roots by drawing out an inherent curiosity and connection, while bringing forth creativity and stewardship.

UCSB’s Kids in Nature (KIN) program is an innovative program designed to
enrich the learning experiences of underrepresented and underserved youth.
KIN provides fifth-grade students with a year-long dynamic combination of
hands-on, inquiry-based, classroom activities, nature journaling, interactive custom-designed computer simulations and field trips.