Conservation Foundation is committed to ensuring youth education and community engagement is central to our mission work. The Youth in Nature initiative engages local at-risk youth in our region in a variety of nature experiences. The overarching goal is to create 'Wow!' moments in nature, by providing a range of experiences in our region's spectacular parks and preserves and hopefully catching sight of some of nature's most spectacular creatures. Our hope is that through these incredible nature experiences, youth will create life-long memories, build self-esteem, and instill a love for the natural world.
We know for many, these experiences are the first time these youth have ever been on-the-water or immersed in nature. These experiences will have a lasting impact on their views of nature and the environment. Imagine a young, teenage girl who has never before held a fishing pole, reeling in a bonnethead shark on Little Sarasota Bay. Or a young man, who has never heard of Myakka watching a 12-foot gator slide off the banks of the Myakka River and into the dark waters below. These are 'Wow!' moments that change a child forever.
A growing body of research indicates that contact with nature is important for children's cognitive, emotional, social, and educational development. Benefits include increased concentration, greater attention capacities, and higher academic performance. Studies also show that youth demonstrate better motor coordination, reduced stress levels, increased social interaction with adults and other children, and improved social skills as a result of greater activity in nature.
Conservation Foundation is excited to collaborate with regional non-profits that currently serve this target youth population as well as corporate partners interested in community engagement and employee volunteerism. We look forward to a robust program of fun outdoor experiences that will provide a variety of philanthropic and volunteer opportunities.
Conservation Foundation is grateful to the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation for their lead gift, and the Robert R. Harlan and Susan H. Lowy Harlan Donor Advised Fund at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, for their investment in the Youth in Nature initiative. Additional support has been provided by the Allyn Foundation, Harold C. and Jacqueline F. Bladel Foundation, Doris M. Carter Foundation and Mildred & Bernard Doyle Charitable Trust.
Youth Development Coordinator Mary Gibbons is thrilled to help bring these opportunities to area youth. To find out how you can help or for more information click here: