Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office
Pacific Southwest Region

Connecting People with Nature: Program History

1In 2005, Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods – Saving Our Children from Nature-deficit Disorder, participated in a Conservation Learning Summit and in Communications Week at the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) National Conservation Training Center (NCTC).  Louv’s participation prompted the USFWS to consider how its mission is threatened by the decline in people visiting natural environments.  The first “National Dialogue on Children and Nature” occurred in September 2006 at NCTC where then- USFWS Director Dale Hall and then-Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne gave full support for the USFWS to play an active role in connecting people with nature.  During the January-February 2007 Directorate meeting, Rick Lemon, NCTC Director, presented a proposal entitled, “Children and Nature – Better Together: A Proposal for USFWS Efforts to Connect Children with Nature for the Health and Well Being of our Children, the Natural World, and Service Mission Accomplishment.”

As a result of this meeting, the USFWS Directorate adopted eight Connecting People with Nature Action Items and directed the formation of an Executive Committee and a National Children and Nature Working Group (Working Group), to be coordinated by NCTC, with representation from each Region and headquarters program.  This group was later renamed the Connecting People with Nature Working Group, to more accurately reflect the USFWS priority.  The Working Group began meeting in March 2007 and developed a group charter to guide its efforts.  The group developed a list of action items, formed subgroups, and began working toward its vision:  “All of America’s children will have enjoyable and meaningful experiences in the out-of-doors.”

In December 2007, the Working Group convened a “Connecting People with Nature: Making it Happen in Your Community” training at NCTC to expand the number of USFWS personnel involved in the initiative and to train 100 “ambassadors,” including 10 from each region.  At this training, each region developed and submitted a plan, outlining their regional efforts and future plans to “connect people with nature,” including the identification of five action items for implementation and sponsorship of at least one schoolyard habitat project.  Following submission of these plans, a team representing each region met at NCTC to review and synthesize the regional plans, create an outline for a national strategy, and identify goals and objectives to be accomplished at the national level. 

Locally, the Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office (Yreka FWO) developed a Connecting People with Nature Program, to offer educational, informative, and entertaining nature-related events and activities for the people of Siskiyou County.  Learn about Yreka FWO's Connecting People with Nature Program and What You Can Do.