The Outdoor Bloggers Summit issued a challenge to it's members, to blog about how we could get everyone to play outdoors, how we can introduce children to the outdoors and help them have a green hour each day.
For me partnering with our local public library has been a wonderful experience. Many small and rural libraries struggle with funding issues. These libraries often are barely able to meet expenses, let alone have any funds left over for programs or something as small as a magazine subscription or new book purchase.
A quick and easy way to start is to offer the library your outdoor related magazines when you have finished reading them. Same with any of your outdoor related books. Better yet consider donating a subscription to Ranger Rick or one of the childrens oriented outdoor magazines.
Meet with the librarian and brain storm about possible programs and activities you can provide. Feeder Watch is an relatively low cost project to set up. Place a feeder or two in area where young patrons can watch and identify the birds. A small display of bird books and field guides nearby is also helpful. Not only does the library benefit, but by working with the youngsters we are help to build relationships with those same children.
I can't tell you how exciting it is to receive a phone call from one of my library kids saying " Miss Gretchen guess what I saw today!"
The National Wildlife Federation's BE OUT THERE program is full of great ideas and materials that can easily translate to a program for young library patrons. and virtually all state DNR's offer many free downloadable and printable activities and programs that can be used to fashion specific programs. Here in Illinois the DNR has been most generous with materials for programs
If your library does story hour, volunteer to be the story teller and pick a story that has to do with enjoying the outdoors. If your library offers a craft day, volunteer to help make milk carton bird feeders, or a similar project.
Consider having a WILD Occupations day for the teen patrons. Gather up several of your contacts that have wild occupations and help the teens see what educational choices should be made and what occupations are out there.
Another fun activity is to "sponsor" a poster or art contest with an outdoor related theme. Followed by of course an exhibit of the young patrons work.
In today's struggling economy we have seen library patronage increase, buying books and reading materials have been removed from many family budgets, as has internet service. Your library can order many titles through interlibrary loan, and provide free internet access. Offer to build a list of good internet sites that relate to the outdoors that librarians can share with interested patrons.
As you can see, a little enthusiasm on your part makes the opportunities endless.
So my challenge to you my readers is to visit your public library, offer your services, and begin to help the children and adults in your community discover the importance of playing outside!