What makes 500 middle and high school kids from area schools near Tallahassee, Fla., happy? Getting outside and embracing the great outdoors during a week-long U.S. Forest Service event known as ‘More Kids in the Woods.’
During the five-day outdoor event , the kids developed new skills related to archery and using BB gun ranges, discovered wild turkey hunting, and immersed themselves in wildlife interpretive and forestry information, including a demonstration of a prescribed burn to learn more about the role fire plays in managing ecosystems.
“I have learned so much about the woods,” said Maria Joyner a student at Fort Braden Middle School. “I thought I knew a lot before, but I learned about wildfire and longleaf pine. It’s amazing!”
The program evolved as a result of a decline in outdoor activities among children. Today kids are more technology savvy and nature plays less of a role in their lives. With this in mind, the U.S. Forest Service, American Recreation Coalition and the National Forest Foundation developed the program to proactively support and promote a common belief that children need to be connected to nature.
“The Forest Service ‘More Kids in the Woods’ grant encourages children to learn more about the natural world and to experience outdoor activities along with exposing them to a variety of career paths in natural resources,” said Natural Resources Manager Carl Petrick of the National Forests in Florida.