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Outdoor Economy

How Learning About The Natural Environment Can Boost Tourism

Tour Hydrangeasoperators that have learned to provide quality outdoor education opportunities are creating a win-win-win situation.

They are providing a positive learning environment for their guests and are attracting families.

They are creating family bonding experiences where both adults and children are having fun learning together and spending time being active outdoors.

They are creating more satisfied customers who will help to spread the news about the operation and the influence that it has had on them.

They are increasing their occupancy and creating a competitive advantage over other similar operations.

They are creating more responsible citizens that will have a ripple effect on the long-term outcomes of the area.

They can attract school, church and other student groups who enjoy the who are looking for the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors while they learn about the environment.

Creating the right programs that will attract these families takes some research and talented staff.

Successful strategies for developing environmental education program can be learned by others who have spent years developing and refining their programs and are now reaping the benefits.

There are several keys to developing an environmental education program for your guests:

Do Your Research

Get a good understanding of the most successful programs that others in your field have offered to get an idea of what people are looking for and responding to.

Take inventory of your environment and assets

Think about what you can realisticly offer your guests. Sometimes it is just about adding an education component to what you already have.

Analyze from your client’s perspective

Consider the logistics of how your guests will participate taking into account transportation, space and sitting room.

Think about what you will need to purchase in order to run the program.

It may be a good idea to consider building a dedicated interpretive center and central place for promoting and booking.

Hire the right people

Your staff will be critical to the success of your program. Make sure you do a thorough vetting process to make sure your staff  has both the knowledge and personal skills to educate and entertain while being patient and professional. Personal skills and professionalism are most important.

Knowledge can be gained through training. The right staff will increase their knowledge for themselves overtime.

Leave a comment with your questions if you are interested in providing environmental education opportunities for your guests.

If you already run or are involved in successful environmental education, please add your expertise so as to help others who are creating their own.

If you are interested in providing environmental education programs for your guests. Please leave a comment or contact me.

 


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Environmental Education: Benefits to the Economy & Human Health

outdoor environmental educationWhat do Ben Franklin, Leonardo DaVinci, Beethoven, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Mozart, John Frost, Henry David Thoroeu, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Isaac Newton, Galileo, Albert Einstien, Carl Linnaeus, Copernicus, The Wright Brothers, Charles Darwin, Vincent Van Gough, and many other great men and women of art and science have in common?

They were all influenced by nature and created some of their greatest accomplishments by observing it and learning from it.

As our plugged-in lifestyles cause us to spend less and less time outdoors, what is being lost as we become more and more disconnected with the outside world?

The sedentary lifestyle spent in front of screens has led to a dramatic increase in obesity and other health related issues.

The resources below show how Environmental Education can help both children and the economy.

Why Environmental Education is Important
[ForestFoundation.org]

Today we are seeing a drastic change as people spend more time indoors in-front of screens and less time exploring the world around them. This generation has been growing up indoors and disconnected.

According a worldwide study in 2005, %53 of children expressed feelings of fear about natural processes such as rain, wind and snow.

This movement indoors is not benign; there are costs to the health of our children: attention difficulties, hyperactivity, childhood obesity, diminished use of senses, disconnect from things that are real.

Additionally, if children are detached from nature, how will they learn about, understand, and value nature? How will the next generation care about the land and be stewards of its resources?

What is the cost to society?

Cost of Obesity:
[GetAmericaFit.org]

According to a study of national costs attributed to both overweight
(BMI 25–29.9) and obesity (BMI greater than 30), medical expenses
accounted for 9.1 percent of total U.S. medical expenditures in 1998
and may have reached as high as $78.5 billion ($92.6 billion in 2002 dollars)(Finkelstein, Fiebelkorn, and Wang, 2003).

Approximately half of these costs were paid by Medicaid and Medicare.

Cost of ADHD
[Center for Disease Control & Prevention]

Rising hyperactivity and and attention deficit causes significant burden on the medical and healthcare system. The cost of ADHD is estimated to be between $36 and $52 billion, and is estimated to be between $12,005 and $17,458 annually per individual.

This does not mention the stress on parents, teachers, and the students own self esteem and achievement

Cost of Disconnection to Nature
[Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching]

53% of children in a worldwide study expressed feelings of fear about natural processes such as rain, wind and snow. Schoolyard design also reflects a lack of understanding of how quality outdoor play environments can provide children rich educational opportunities, particularly in the area of social skills and environmental learning (Evan 1997)

Environmental Education can be a solution to these issues.
[Campaign for Environmental Literacy]

Environmental education increases student engagement, improves academic achievement in core areas, reduces discipline and classroom management problems, increases enthusiasm for learning, creates greater student pride and ownership in accomplishments, and provides critical tools for 21st century workforce.

This has been proven to be true for students with and without learning disabilities.

Children and families with opportunities to play outside in natural areas and explore their environment have been found to develop a deeper sense of place and understanding of who and what they are.

Families that understand the benefits of outdoor play are looking for ways to allow their children time outside in a safe learning environment.

Now that we know environmental education can directly and indirectly add social and economical value, how do we go about implementing strategies to ensure that our communities have access?

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