I had the privilege this morning of speaking with Carter Smith, executive director of Texas Parks and Wildlife. We spoke about ways to encourage families to get outside and ways too to help them figure out what to do once they’re out there. We talked about sharing stories of families experiencing nature and the realization too that nature can be as simple as a lone tree growing up through a sidewalk or as expansive as a 15,000 acre wilderness preserve. It’s the idea of building connection that counts. And it’s a conversation I hope to continue with him and others too.

My first introduction to Carter was through an editorial he had in the Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine about children and nature and Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods. He wrote with a sincere  sentimentality mixed with a professional dictate about the importance of exposing kids to nature – not just for the children’s sake but for the sake of our natural world as well. If kids feel connected now, the greater chance they’ll have of serving as stewards for the environment down the road.

Carter is speaking tomorrow night at the Celebration of Children in Nature awards banquet at the Four Seasons Hotel here in Austin. It’s organized  by Westcave preserve which does a lot of amazing work with kids and nature. It’s a lovely event with a banquet on the lawn, and a chance to listen and discuss the whys and ways of getting kids and families to experience and explore the outdoors.  If you are at all interested in ways you can encourage children and nature, or if you just want a chance to attend an amazing event and listen to some good talks in a beautiful locale, tickets can be purchased through West Cave preserve.

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Our very urban East Bouldin Creek

We are lucky here in Austin to have our urbanness intermingle so effortlessly with the creeks and parks and other outdoor spaces. The recent rains have made the very urban creeks feel like a veritable wilderness – oftentimes running right under the city’s streets. As a family we spend a lot of time outdoors and I truly feel our most connected times are those times we spend in nature – no distractions, creative exploration and even a chance for a sun drenched nap on occasion.

How does your family connect to nature?