Strategic Plan

The mission of Texas Children in Nature is to ensure equitable access and connection to nature for children and Texans of all ages. In 2016 Texas Children released its latest Strategic Plan. In 2020 TCiN is currently working on an updated strategic plan. Stay tuned for updates to the plan and updates on how TCiN is acheiving its goals.

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Access

Safety, convenience and multi-purpose design are essential to developing a connection with nature and a sense of place, the building blocks to conservation stewardship. We envision a Texas where children and their families have safe, convenient, sustainable and desirable access to the outdoors, where they can develop respect and appreciation for the natural environment. Our goal is to improve access to nature for children and families of all abilities. To achieve this, we will:

1. Optimize access to natural areas to make them safe and convenient.

2. Partner with government agencies, nonprofits and the private sector, to provide increased access to Texas lands and waters.

3. Plan, develop or expand built environments to include natural areas with interpretive elements.

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Health

A growing body of evidence points to the benefits of physical activity and play in nature to children’s physical and mental health and development. For example, new research is revealing the negative affects of stress on heart health and emotional resilience, and the role that nature plays in reducing stress. Additional research indicates other physiological benefits of time spent in nature. We envision healthier children and families as a result of increased time spent in nature and more outdoor physical activity. Our goal is to improve community health by encouraging nature-based activity. To achieve this, we will:

1. Encourage and share sound research about nature and children’s health and development, including the therapeutic benefits of nature.

2. Through healthcare and related professionals, educate families about the benefits of time spent in nature to children’s physical health, emotional well-being and cognitive functioning and the importance of nature and nature play and exploration for healthy child development.

3. As appropriate, encourage integration of nature opportunities as a health strategy in health and childcare guidelines.

4. Promote health considerations in urban and community planning.

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Equity

· The past months, intensified by the last few days, have brought into focus racial and ethnic inequities in a profound way. And although we may be heartbroken, we must not break our spirit of pulling together.

Texas Children in Nature had already chosen equity as a major focus moving forward. We have asked ourselves how children, especially children of color, who live in fear and mistrust, whose communities are more vulnerable to health and economic crises, who have fewer opportunities than children on the other side of town, can gain the resilience, physical and mental health, academic advantages and community well-being that time in nature can bring. Recent events have reaffirmed and energized our commitment towards equitable access and connection to nature for all children.

Diversity will be our strength and our responsibility. We look to our partners, led by people of color, to help us listen and better understand how we can help communities achieve safe, equitable access and connection to nature.

Please join us in listening to, learning from, and honoring each other. Please help us have greater diversity in our leadership by volunteering or recommending leaders to us. Please help us share resources and your ideas in our social media and newsletters. Let us work together, with compassion, for a better tomorrow.

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Community

Connecting with nature must be relevant and welcoming to all, including unifying messages, partnerships and efforts that are respectful to Texas’ diverse peoples, cultures and economic needs. We envision that the message “Healthier, Happier, Smarter” Children in Nature is widely and mutually communicated and that communities inspire children to maintain a lifelong connection to nature. Our goal is to encourage communities to incorporate nature and nature-based activities in their everyday lives. To achieve this, we will:

1. Engage, recruit and educate new and diverse partners to support nature activities in communities.

2. Raise awareness and action among adults and children through consistent and unified communication.

3. Promote the cultural and economic impact and benefits of nature and nature-based learning opportunities.

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Education

Natural resource literacy is the ability to understand, analyze and address major natural resource opportunities and challenges. Our vision is that every child in Texas will be engaged in meaningful outdoor learning experiences and achieve natural resource literacy. The goals to achieve natural resource literacy through education include educating school administrators, educators and future educators; tracking students’ outcomes and experiences; integrating local informal resources; involving parents; and assessing these processes and outcomes. To achieve this, we will:

1. Support the objectives of the Natural Resource / Environmental Literacy Plan.

2. Support the integration of school outdoor areas with curricula.

3. Develop integrated and collaborative relationships between the formal and informal education systems through TCiN partners.

4. Support lifelong learning and community connections that offer experiences in and appreciation for nature.

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Leadership Development

Texas Children in Nature is dedicated to supporting new leaders and developing new leaders in the Nature field throughout the state. This strategic area will be addressed in the new 2020 strategic plan.

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Marketing

Texas Children in Nature is dedicated to marketing the benefits of nature. This strategic area will be addressed more in the new 2020 strategic plan