Third Annual Celebration of Children in Nature 2010 Awards Dinner Slated for September 30, 2010

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Austin Children in Nature Collaborative Gathering Features Carter Smith of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as Keynote Speaker; Evan Smith as Master of Ceremonies At the end of the month, the Austin chapter of the Children in Nature Collaborative will host its third annual Celebration awards dinner, and recognition of all those in the community focused on getting our local children out into nature. Host Westcave Preserve will highlight five 2010 award winners. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director, Carter Smith, will keynote and Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune will serve as master of ceremonies. Numerous Austin organizations, companies and families help fund the awards dinner, and sponsorship and tickets are still available to be part of the Thursday, September 30 event at the Austin Four Seasons Hotel. More information is available at: http://www.westcave.org/

At the end of the month, the Austin chapter of the Children in Nature Collaborative will host its third annual Celebration awards dinner, and recognition of all those in the community focused on getting our local children out into nature. Host Westcave Preserve will highlight five 2010 award winners. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director, Carter Smith, will keynote and Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune will serve as master of ceremonies. Numerous Austin organizations, companies and families help fund the awards dinner, and sponsorship and tickets are still available to be part of the Thursday, September 30 event at the Austin Four Seasons Hotel. More information is available at: http://www.westcave.org/

“Arguably the greatest challenge that we as conservationists face is ensuring that our young people understand, experience, and value nature as part of their everyday lives,” said keynote speaker, Carter Smith, executive director, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “Without those strong bonds, the future of our lands and waters is uncertain at best.”

The Austin Children in Nature Collaborative (CINC-Austin) is a private/public partnership dedicated to creating social change so that kids throughout Central Texas have easy and frequent connections to our natural world. CINC-Austin is facilitated by Westcave Preserve, and comprised of many organizations who together execute a strategic plan to inspire social change resulting in a significant increase in the amount of time children spend interacting with nature on a daily basis. Scientific research increasingly shows that kids with frequent access to the natural world are healthier, happier and smarter. CINC-Austin delivers such amazing resources as NatureRocksAustin, http://www.naturerocksaustin.org/, recently launched this past May, as a real-time interactive website and comprehensive resource for families to find local places to go and things to do to connect kids with the great outdoors.

Recognizing 2010 Achievements:
The annual Children in Nature awards highlight several individuals or organizations doing exceptional things that support the Children in Nature Collaborative mission and vision. Awards are given in five categories recognizing excellence in connecting children to nature:

  •     Lee Walker Award for Community Collaboration
  •     John Covert Watson Award for Vision
  •     John F. Ahrns Award for Environmental Education
  •     Westcave Preserve Award for Enduring Dedication
  •     Special Recognition Award

We are happy to reveal actual award winner names to interested press in advance of the event.

“We are inspired, every day, by the many regional leaders who have joined this campaign to get more kids outside more often,” said Max Scoular, chair of the Westcave board of directors. “Those who will be honored on September 30 represent some of the most creative, inspiring and far-reaching initiatives in our community to give kids regular opportunities to get outside. And the lessons learned may well result in life-long love of the natural world."

As keynote speaker, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) executive director, Carter Smith is expected to talk about the current disconnect between children and nature and the urgency in finding regular opportunities for kids to actively explore the natural world. Connecting our children to nature is one of the highest priorities for TPWD, a leader in helping families and children discover the wonder of nature for decades. Evan Smith, editor of the Texas Tribune and former editor of Texas Monthly Magazine, will be the Master of Ceremonies for the event.

More About the Children in Nature Collaborative:
The vision of the Children in Nature Collaborative is to ignite and fan the flames of the movement to reconnect kids to the wonder and joy of the natural world. Westcave Preserve has served as the facilitator for the Central Texas Children in Nature Collaborative since the spring of 2007. Examples of the group’s work include influencing the way communities are designed, how schools are landscaped, engaging pediatricians who value and encourage outdoor play, helping teachers integrate the outdoors into their curriculum, and supporting the outdoor choices families make when planning for their play time.

More About Westcave Preserve:
Westcave Preserve, located 28 miles west of downtown Austin in the Texas Hill Country, hosts more than 8,000 visitors each year for guided tours of its canyon and its stunning grotto and waterfall. As modern communities, families and especially children are spending more time indoors and less time in the natural world, they often demonstrate symptoms of “Nature Deficit Disorder” – a term coined by bestselling author Richard Louv. These include increased feelings of stress, trouble paying attention and feelings of not being rooted in our world. Westcave Preserve offers an antidote for “Nature Deficit Disorder.” More on Westcave Preserve can be found at: http://www.westcave.org/

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