Happy Earth Day!

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Did you know that in April we celebrate not only Earth Day (today! April 22!) but it is also Children & Nature Awareness Month?

The Children & Nature Network, which began the first Children & Nature Awareness Month three years ago is an organization that explores different ways to get children back outside. It all began with the book, Last Child in the Woods by author Richard Louv and has now spiraled into a national movement to raise awareness of the importance of connecting children with nature.

We were fortunate last fall to have Richard here at Denver Botanic Gardens to speak about connecting children with nature. His appearance is part of the year-long build-up leading to the opening Denver Botanic Gardens’ Mordecai Children’s Garden in Summer 2010.

We were also thrilled to have Lt. Governor Barbara O’Brien also participate in welcoming Richard to Denver last fall. The Lt. Governor has been at the forefront of the movement to get kids outside. In fact, she spent much of 2009 traveling Colorado meeting with over 600 stakeholders to create a detailed plan on how we can move forward to ensure that the next generation has just as much access – if not more!- to the natural resources we all have had the privilege to enjoy when we were growing up.

While traveling the state, Lt. Governor O’Brien also collected ideas from kids and kids at heart (including the staff at the Gardens) to create the Colorado Kids’ Outdoor Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights states that before they grow up, all kids in Colorado should have the opportunity to:

1. Camp out under the stars.
2. Follow a trail, ride it or walk it, and be respectful of everyone’s right to use the trail.
3. Play in a creek or river: fish, wade, paddle, or skip a stone.
4. Experience the wonders of Colorado’s four seasons: wildflowers, abundant sunshine, the changing aspen leaves, and fresh powder snow.
5. Visit a working farm or ranch.
6. Enjoy the view from the top of a mountain.
7. Identify Colorado’s official state wildlife and plants in their natural habitat.
8. Explore one of the dozens of local, state, and national parks in Colorado.
9. Play in the dirt and learn about the world from the ground up.
10. Plant a seed for other Colorado kids to enjoy in the future.

Which one will you do with your kids today, this week, or this weekend? Of if you don’t have kids, celebrate this month by doing one of these yourself!

P.S. While you’re waiting for the Mordecai Children’s Garden to open, a great place to start is at Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield. Did you know there’s nature trails, a wildlife observation area, display gardens, educational exhibits, a 19th century one-room schoolhouse and working beehives? There’s even a historic farm with live goats, chicken, and sheep. Baaaa......

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At the Gardens

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