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Article for July - August 2007

National Leaders Band Together For Action
by Rosanne McDowell

Adult and Child by the River Photography by Michael FosterIn September of 2006, The Conservation Fund, best-selling author Richard Louv and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service got together with other interested folks to talk about ways to reconnect children with nature. They discussed the unfortunate consequences of keeping children out of the great outdoors and formulated a plan of action to help turn around this growing problem.

The outcome of this meeting is the National Forum on Children and Nature, launched in June 2007 and chaired by four governors: Schweitzer of Montana, Rendell of Pennsylvania, Rell of Connecticut and our own Gov. Sanford. The 35 members of the National Forum include leaders of government, corporations, environmental organizations and educational and health institutions who are committed to encouraging America's youth to get into the outdoors.

Forum members are taking action to solve the child-nature disconnect by working with experts to identify twenty nationally significant demonstration projects in the areas of health, education, the built environment (addressing community planning and important buildings like schools) and media/culture that will further the mission of getting kids out into the natural world. Once worthy projects have been identified—sometime in the fall of 2008—The Conservation Fund and the National Forum will provide them with support and funding to the tune of at least $20 million, total. The Conservation Fund has committed $1 million to get the ball rolling, and plans to work with the National Forum to raise the remainder from various public, private and charitable organizations. For more information on The Conservation Fund and the National Forum on Children and Nature, visit www.conservationfund.org.

Rosanne McDowell is a free-lance writer living in Columbia..

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