Stories from the Field

The Case for NatureBridge: A 7th-Grade Perspective

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Have you ever wondered why nature is important in the development of children? Well, our organization, NatureBridge, focuses on kids who do not have the resources to go to places like Yosemite or Olympic National Park where they can learn, play, and experience nature at its fullest. It has been proven that children who do not experience nature through hikes and camping trips have a higher chance of anxiety and depression. Now take a second to think about a world in the future where we have cut down all trees, destroyed all natural habitats. A world where there are only buildings, where no kid has the opportunity to grow up with nature.

Now take a second to think about a world in the future where we have cut down all trees, destroyed all natural habitats. A world where there are only buildings, where no kid has the opportunity to grow up with nature.
Noah & Jordan

There are people who grow up never seeing a tree or a bug, something that we see on a daily basis. Without non-profit organizations like NatureBridge, many kids in this generation will not have the opportunity to visit America’s beautiful national parks and reserves or even go on a hike.

A big concern for adults in the U.S. is that their kids spend most of their time indoors rather than exploring the beauty of nature. This problem exists for a few different reasons. One reason is that kids would rather spend their time playing video games or being on social media than being outside. Another reason kids are inside is that they do not have the resources to visit a national park or to explore private natural beauties. It has been proven that going outside into natural places can benefit your child in social, emotional, physical, and intellectual ways. Some symptoms of this problem are anxiety and depression. Most of the people that are affected by these problems are adolescents because their brains are changing by the second.

According to an article by Bright Horizons, going outside benefits children intellectually, physically and socially. NatureBridge works with schools to help classes of kids who do not have the opportunity to get outside to get out into nature. NatureBridge has done a lot of great work. They have many skilled instructors who are knowledgeable about animals, bugs, water, rocks, and about places like Yosemite. 

We believe that NatureBridge follows the mitzvah category of Bal Tashchit, which means not to destroy or waste nature. This problem can affect our lives because if kids grow up without nature being a significant part of their lives, they can be depressed and not have a bright future.
Jordan & Noah

We need to work towards this problem so everyone can have a bright future starting now. Without that the world will keep on turning into a dark, destroyed place because kids who have not experienced nature will not understand its importance. “Nature is the very essence of a deity” said the Ba’al Shem Tov. According to this quote, if we are to destroy nature we are also destroying God.

NatureBridge was founded in 1971, when it was called the Yosemite Institute. In 1971, a high school teacher named Don Rees took a group of fifty high school students to Yosemite for a week-long trip. That trip inspired the founding of NatureBridge to provide overnight environmental education in national parks. One program that NatureBridge provides is overnights for schools that cannot afford to pay for an overnight outdoor education trip. Other schools that can afford to go on trips with NatureBridge pay for their trip, therefore funding trips for schools that cannot afford trips. Donations also fund educators and programs. These amazing trips include hiking and learning about nature and science. Another awesome program NatureBridge has are the incredible backpacking trips through Yosemite and other beautiful natural parks, where the people on the trip get to see amazing views, hike, and sleep under the stars.

Students backpacking through Olympic National Park

NatureBridge has access to four different national parks and connects 35,000 kids and 600 schools to them each year. “One teenage student was so moved by NatureBridge’s work, after her experience she went and created her own outdoor based learning program in New Mexico,” said Annie Schuler, Creative & Communications Director. We know that NatureBridge’s programs are successful because of stories like this. People going through the programs, being changed, and helping others access the programs or making their own programs. “Different people also help NatureBridge with small things like weeding in public gardens, beach cleanups, and collecting specimens for research classes. Many people have said that just that changes them, knowing that they can help out, have fun, and learn,” said Phil Kilbridge, President and CEO.

We believe that NatureBridge is an amazing organization. The problem that our country has is that kids would rather be inside than outside and do not have the funds to explore nature. We should care about this problem because if kids grow up without seeing the great outdoors, they will raise their kids the same way. This cycle will go on and on. NatureBridge is working to fix this problem. NatureBridge connects 35,000 students and 600 schools each year to nature. We hope you vote for NatureBridge because we believe this is an important topic.

Jordan and Noah are 7th graders at The Brandeis School of San Francisco. As part of their 7th grade curriculum, they researched and advocated for NatureBridge to their classmates to get NatureBridge nominated for a donation from their school. "We chose NatureBridge because we have both had amazing experiences in their programs." —Jordan

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