Article by David Horst
“You need a bigger boat.”
That was best-selling author Richard Louv’s advice to Fox Valley nature centers and environmental groups as the keynote speaker for Earth Day and the grand opening of the new nature center at Bubolz Nature Preserve Sunday.
His reference was to the movie Jaws — which he acknowledged is factually flawed from an ecological perspective. But he said he likes the scene when the shark hunters realize just how big this shark is. “You’re going to need a bigger boat,” Roy Schreider’s character says.
Likewise, the author of “Last Child in the Woods,” said people who want to see kids spend more time outdoors need to know what they’re up against — increasing screen time for kids, tech companies working to get more of their products into the classroom, fear of strangers and government demands for longer school days and shorter recess periods. The answer is to work together, he said.
Author Richard Louv speaks with Shane Vondracek from the Bruce B. Purdy Nature Preserve.Louv appeared at Bubolz thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation’s Bright Idea Fund. Environmental Sustainability is one of five focus areas for the fund. Bubolz Development Director Kristine Schuetze said more than 1,500 people visited Bubolz Sunday, a new one-day record for the nature center on County A in Grand Chute.
Louv said he was particularly impressed by the “Need for Nature” campaign Bubolz is just starting. It suggests being out in nature is a basic need. “Last Child,” along with Louv’s followup works “Nature Principle” and “Vitamin N,” cite 60 studies that show physical and mental health improve with exposure to nature. He said the number of studies to that effect now number 700 and are listed on the Children and Nature Network website. Louv is chairman emeritus of the group.
Louv suggested that “Need for Nature” take a regional approach, involving all of the nature centers in the Fox Cities area with Bubolz serving as the convener. He had the same conversation with nature center directors for throughout the region invited by Bubolz to meet with Louv Sunday morning. He told the nature center staffers, “you have a sacred job in the biggest sense of the word.” He also addressed Bubolz donors at a dinner Saturday evening and took part in a trail hike Sunday morning.
He told the crowd at the public presentation Sunday afternoon that he is impressed with all that is being done in the Fox Cities to get children outdoors.