NY1 VIDEO: Recently, the Nature Conservancy conducted an online survey of 602 young people to get their attitudes about the environment. While it's not a scientific poll, Bill Ulfelder of the Nature Conservancy tells NY1 it lets the group draw conclusions about how to get kids to go green. For more ways to go green, visit nature.org/ny1.
Youth Poll: An Empowered Generation
The Nature Conservancy’s newly released poll on youth and their perceptions about the environment show that kids are most inclined to care about things they know- and that spending time in nature makes them more likely to consider themselves environmentalists. Poll results also show that most kids think the condition of the environment and nature is a very serious problem- but that if we take action now, the outlook for the future is good. This poll, conducted online, surveyed 602 youth between the ages of 13 and 18 in various locations around the country.
Why is it important to expose younger generations to nature?
• 88% of American youth spend time online every day, and 69% of those surveyed play video games and/or watch TV daily. The youth poll found, however, that kids who frequently spend time in nature are significantly more likely to express concern about the condition of the environment. Getting them outside will help create tomorrow’s leaders.
• 76% of youth today strongly believe that issues like climate change can be solved if action is taken right now. This means that there is great potential to mobilize members of this generation to get involved and make a difference.
• Nearly three-quarters of youth surveyed associate being in nature with being peaceful, free, calm, and happy. Just being outside can help them to cope with stress and anxiety. This makes for happier kids, and happier parents.
How can we help kids get access to nature?
• The poll showed that, especially in urban areas, access to natural areas tends to be a serious obstacle for many youth in increasing the time they can spend outdoors. 62% of youth surveyed reported lack of transportation as either a major or minor factor in their level of involvement.
• But, here in New York City, we have public transportation that can help solve this problem. Parents can take their kids to one of the countries only national parks that is accessible by public transportation – Jamaica Bay. Trains and buses also run to places like the Rockaway beaches and grant easy access to Central Park.
• In the ever-evolving world of technology, television and computers can keep kids from accessing nature- but they don’t have to. Parents should cut themselves a break and start thinking about ways that technology can support time in nature. Scientists use GPS systems to track invasive species, CAT scan technology to monitor marshes and “state park” applications to get immediate updates on plants and animals.
Call To Action: Things You Can Do To Help Get Kids Involved In Saving The Planet
• Make it fun. The two biggest outdoor activities that surveyed youth expressed the most interest in participating are; seeing something in nature that is beautiful or amazing, and having free time outdoors to spend with friends. Planning fun activities or trips to remarkable nearby preserves can help outweigh the discomfort some people associate with being in nature.
• Take public transportation to nature: The Nature Conservancy has an extensive list of nature preserves in the New York area that are easily accessible via mass transportation. Visit nature.org/ny1 to find a preserve near you today!
• Incorporate technology into field trips in nature: Help your kids download applications on their iPads or smart phones that will enhance their experience in nature- and help them learn something along the way.
• Tell your friends! Research found that friends are among the most powerful influencers to get outside. 90% of people surveyed said that they would listen if their friends encouraged them to spend more time in nature- so get empowered and spread the word!
• Want to know more about the results of our youth poll? Visit nature.org/ny1 for the full set of results.