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Two people wearing waders in a shallow stream in front of a bridge check a net for animals.
Information icon Joyce Coombs helps a students check a rock for animals. Photo by Gary Peeples, USFWS.

Resources for families

You probably remember how much fun it was to play outside as a child, but you may not have known how good it was for you! Today’s kids, however, spend less time outside than any previous generation. Recent research shows that our children are suffering from too much time inside. Kids spend an average of 6.5 hours/day with television, computers and video games. What does this mean? If kids are raised without a connection to nature, they may miss out on many important health benefits. Nature is critical to child development - intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and physically.

Working with families to connect children and nature is one of the highest priorities of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Our National Fish Hatcheries provide a place for visitors to get a close look at fish and other aquatic species and to witness first-hand the wonder of nature’s cycle of life.

With fourteen National Fish Hatcheries in the Southeast United States, there are many opportunities to connect to nature. At these places, bubbling springs, mountain streams and rippling ponds bring to life millions of fish hatched from tiny eggs every year. Their return to waters across the Southeast offers children the possibility to become a participant in an outdoor activity to bring them in touch with nature: fishing. According to the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, one-third of Americans enjoy fishing and watching wildlife. The Fisheries Program works to ensure that opportunity exists for everyone.

Fisheries Program employees are passionate about their work and have the expertise and the desire to share their knowledge with visitors. Special events that highlight the recreational, economic, health, and quality-of-life benefits of fishing; a new environmental education program; a wealth of volunteer opportunities; and staff that vigorously support these programs all work together to provide families and children the chance for a hands-on experience that will deepen their appreciation of our aquatic resources.

Whether it is a National Fish Hatchery, a local park or your own backyard, there are lots of safe outdoor places you and your family can visit. And you don’t need to be an expert on nature to enjoy it! Nature’s health benefits come from experiencing nature, not knowing about the ecological processes at work.

Visit a hatchery, use the activities on the BiT Activity Card for ideas on exploring natural spaces, or participate in one of dozens of annual events held at hatcheries across the region. Allow yourself and your child a moment each day for free, unstructured play outside, and you’ll feel closer to nature and each other!

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