When living in the country, it’s easy to explore nature because it’s right in front of you, but when you live in an urban area, the sights and sounds of nature can be overpowered by the hustle and bustle of city life, causing it to be overlooked at times. However, exploring the outdoors isn’t just for those who grow up and live in the country. A love for nature can be fostered no matter where you live.
If you were to ask one of the environmental educators at Baltimore Woods why Nature in the City is important, you’d hear several variations of “getting the kids outside!” Children growing up in cities tend to be less acquainted with the natural world and it’s not because they don’t love digging in the dirt and observing birds through binoculars! In general, kids are spending less time outside, so when you live in a place where you have to search for nature, it can be easy to forget it’s there.
One of the many benefits that comes with living in a city is easy access to an array of things, and nature should be one of them. With a little digging of our own, we’d actually discover that Syracuse has about 1,000 acres of parks, playgrounds, and open spaces—some of which we introduce to Syracuse City School District students through Nature in the City! By doing this, students experience their community through a new lens, which highlights all of the natural things flourishing around them. Flower beds become a safe haven for pollinators, trees come to life with the sounds of songbirds, and skyscrapers transform into habitats for peregrine falcons.
Nature in the City is more than just reconnecting children to nature. Each lesson is an opportunity to turn off the projector, close textbooks, and lead students outside to rediscover their community and, in the process, build healthy connections to it. When children have a strong sense of place in their community, they care about it! Nature in the City helps us re-imagine Syracuse as a place for nature connection, where plentiful green spaces become community resources for children and families to thrive!