Helping children experience the outdoors, get their hands dirty and enjoy the wonders of the natural world!
The Long Island Nature Collaborative for Kids (LINCK) is a groundbreaking effort to create opportunities for children to discover and explore nature. LINCK was initiated after a team of educators and childhood development experts from Long Island attended the World Forum on Nature Education for Young Children at the Arbor Day Foundation facility in Nebraska in October 2006. The group learned that the problems we were facing on Long Island were not unique: the combination of fear (of ticks, mosquitoes, sun, strangers, etc.) and technology (cell phones, video games, internet, etc.) was keeping an entire generation of children from spending time outdoors. Years ago, children played outside. They engaged in stimulating physical activity in backyards, playgrounds and parks. That has changed dramatically, with severe health consequences. Author Richard Louv coined the term “Nature Deficit Disorder” to describe this situation facing today’s youth.
To combat these issues LINCK embarked on a journey to: 1) provide rich, outdoor learning experiences for children that stimulate all the senses and physical, intellectual and social skills; 2) improve children’s health by encouraging outdoor activities, which help calm children with ADHD and autism and reduce obesity; 3) bring people together to create outdoor classrooms, invest in children and revitalize their communities, and 4) create lifelong advocates for land conservation and environmental protection byconnecting children to nature.
Over the past several years, LINCK has pursued these goals by hosting an island-wide conference on connecting children to nature, assisting in the creation of more than 30 outdoor classrooms, conducting teacher trainings on how to incorporate nature into education, creating a comprehensive inventory of all the parks on Long Island, developing innovative programs to connect children and their communities to nature, and establishing a Steering Committee of more than 65 organizations and individuals that meet quarterly.
Seatuck was a founding member of LINCK and a frequent partner on several projects. In 2015, Seatuck took on a leadership role in LINCK to advance and accelerate this important work.
In 2016 Seatuk will host a series of coaltion meetings and trainings, as well as organize an island-wide forum in the fall on connecting children to nature.
Schoolyard grassland and garden projects, which are designed for students that are too old for outdoor classrooms, directly involve students in planning, preparing, planting, caring for, and observing native grasslands or gardens. Along the way, the students learn about native plants, pollinators, basic gardening and – most importantly – spend time outdoors! The gardens, which can be expanded from year to year, provide an easy-to-maintain teaching tools where students can observe butterflies, bees and other pollinators.
After initiating three schoolyard gardens in the Bay Shore school district in the fall of 2014, Seatuck broke ground on four new gardens in 2015, including in the East Northport (Bellrose Elementary School), Hempstead (Barack Obama Elementary School), Uniondale (Northern Parkway Elementary School) and Islip (Commack Elementary School). These projects have grown out of our work with the Greentree Foundation Teachers’ Ecology Workshop, which trains teachers on Long Island’s ecology and techniques for educating students outdoors.
- LINCK provides support for the design and construction of outdoor classrooms / gardens to schools, parks, childcare programs, camps, youth programs, neighborhoods and backyards.
- LINCK provides training opportunities to educators, parents environmentalists, health professionals, landscape architects, gardeners, policy makers and other planners. Training modules focus on the importance of outdoor learning, the benefits of outdoor classrooms and curriculum use in outdoor classrooms and natural learning environments.