Institute helps connect students to natural world

Aaron Rich was recently appointed director of the Headlands Institute, a campus of the San Francisco-based nonprofit NatureBridge, which offers opportunities for students to connect with the natural world while teaching them the California science standards.

What does your group do? The Headlands Institute helps connect youth with nature. We serve about 10,000 students each year. We serve their schools and we bring anywhere from fourth-graders to high school-aged students out here to Marin Headlands and teach them hands-on science in the national park.

What’s the experience like? Kids are out hiking with our professional field science educators from 9 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. They hike all over the Marin headlands to the different 30 areas. They’ll go to the tide pools, the freshwater pond, they’ll hike up on the ridges to learn about the geology and watershed in the area.

Are kids becoming less appreciative of nature? The trend that we are seeing is that kids are spending more and more time in front of screens. There is less connection to the natural world. But what is not changing is that once you put kids into the setting, it grabs them every time.

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