In the early 2000’s research was emerging that showed that children were spending less time in the outdoors and more time with media; while at the same time childhood obesity rates were increasing at an alarming rate. Within just a matter of one generation, our society was radically changing to an increasingly indoor focused world for our children. Author Richard Louv published his watershed book, Last Child in The Woods; Saving Children from Nature Deficit Disorder in 2005 that gave a voice to the issue and launched a grassroots movement to address it.
In fall 2009, a bipartisan group of Texas legislators requested that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, along with the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Texas Department of Agriculture form a public-private partnership to develop a strategic plan. Over 80 professionals including representatives from state and federal agencies, NGOs, health, education, natural resources, community organizations, and businesses answered the call and formed the Texas Partnership for Children in Nature.
Carter Smith, executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, chaired the effort. In January 2010, a 17-member Texas Steering Committee representing four state agencies, NGOs, health, education, and business convened to establish a work plan and stakeholder teams. The focus areas were Education, Health, Access and Community, and later, Marketing and Policy/Legislative.
The strategic plan was released in 2010 at the Children in Nature Summit held in Austin, TX. At that time the Action Committees decided to focus on forming regional collaboratives that would work locally with their communities to further the goals laid out in the strategic plan. Regional collaboratives were formed in Austin, Caprock, Coastal Bend, Houston, North Texas, Pineywoods, Rio Grande Valley, and San Antonio.
We are a grassroots network of over 600 partner organizations and individuals who are working together to connect children and families with nature in Texas. Each partner brings their unique perspective and solutions to the network. The website www.naturerockstexas.org was created by TCiNN to connect families with partner’s programs, events and nature spaces, and to support the regional collaboratives.
TCiNN is guided by a steering committee of 20 individuals from around the state that represent: environmental education, parks and recreation, hunting and fishing, formal education, health and wellness, youth development and the national Children & Nature Network.
You can get involved with a regional collaborative or at the state level by contacting the state coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Texas Children in Nature Network Board
The TCiNN Non-profit board is made up of volunteers passionate about children spending time in nature. They meet monthly to guide the organization. If you are interested in joining our board please contact Sarah Coles email@example.com.
Board Chair - Dr. April Torres Conkey
Past Chair - Hayden Brooks
Secretary - Demekia Biscoe
Treasurer - Darcy Bontempo
At-Large - Dr. Amanda Mohammed-Strait
At-Large - Dr. Courtney Crim
At-Large - David Buggs
At-Large - Juan Martinez
At-Large - Keiji Asakura
At-Large - Larry Hysmith
At-Large - Marsha Towns
At-Large - Rolando Balli
At-Large - Ted Stevens
Ex-Officio - Richard Heilbrun
Letter from Board Chair Dr. April Torres Conkey
Welcome to the Texas Children in Texas Network!
I am honored to serve as the Chair of the Board of Directors of this important non-profit organization, and on behalf of the Board, I’d like to welcome you to the Texas Children in Nature Network.
As a child, I spent many hours outside under the large oak tree in front of my house. That oak tree was my jungle gym, my playmate, my refuge, and my confidant. As a parent, I see a world of difference between the amount of free time I spent outdoors as a kid and my own child’s experiences. I struggle with limiting screen time, both for myself and my child. But I also know that we feel and perform better after time spent outdoors. So, I look for opportunities for us to share time in nature. But not every kid has this opportunity.
That’s why I volunteer and support the Texas Children in Nature Network. We believe that nature is essential for children's health, development, and well-being. We also believe that nature is essential for building stronger communities. Therefore, the TexasChildren in Nature Network is working to make it easier for kids and their caregivers to experience quality time outdoors. We promote recess and brain-break policies and green-schoolyards for childcare centers and schools. We connect and support partner organizations across the state to develop and improve access to parks, trails, and other outdoor spaces. We also support educational programs, such as providing resources to health and medical professionals to encourage families to connect with nature for a healthier lifestyle. And we work to bridge gaps between education, health, built environment, faith, conservation, and community to address nature access issues through a holistic systems-approach.
When people come together to enjoy nature, they build relationships, create memories, and learn to appreciate their shared environment. We invite you to join us in our work to make Texas a better place for kids to play, learn, and grow:
- Sign up to become one of our partners
- View and share our webinars and resources
- Attend one of our regional collaborative meetings
- Attend, present, and learn at our annual Summit
- Contact us to volunteer on a committee, collaborative, or Board of Directors
- Make a difference for a child today with a tax-deductible donation to support our mission
Thank you for visiting and sharing our mission! I hope to see you at one of our events soon!