Secretary Jewell and journalist Richard Louv discuss how to address the disconnect between youth and nature

Image from the 2013 GO Week informational brochure

As part of Great Outdoors America Week 2013, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and journalist Richard Louv discussed the future of youth in conservation at an event at the Center for American Progress. Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and several other books about the relationship between children and nature, is possibly best known for creating the term “nature-deficit disorder” to describe the idea that children are spending less time outdoors, resulting in a variety of behavioral and physical problems. 

In a question-and-answer format, Louv asked Secretary Jewell a range of questions about her views on the importance of encouraging youth outdoor recreation and about how to build a connection between young people and Americas natural spaces. Both Secretary Jewell and Louv stressed the idea that the future of our country’s conservation efforts depends on building an appreciation for nature in today’s youth. Both advocated for more unstructured outdoor play for kids. Secretary Jewell acknowledged that confronting the current lack of youth involvement in nature would require “building a bigger boat” – government can’t tackle the challenge on its own. She stressed the need for parents, teachers, schools, NGOs and businesses to all be involved in making nature more accessible for youth and adults alike. Secretary Jewell praised The Corps Network for helping create an entry-point into the green careers sector for America’s youth. She also advocated for a strong 21st Century Conservation Service Corps to simultaneously tackle the youth unemployment crisis and the backlog of maintenance work on our public lands.

Click here to see a video of the event.