Fifth Annual Celebration of Children in Nature 2012 Awards Dinner To Be Held September 20, 2012

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Evan Smith, CEO, The Texas Tribune, Returns as Master of Ceremonies to Present Awards to Four Winners at Austin Event Hosted by Westcave Preserve

The Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin today announced that its annual Celebration of Children in Nature will be held Thursday, September 20, 2012. This awards dinner, now in its fifth year, recognizes those in the community focused on getting our local children out into nature, and recognizes four outstanding organizations and schools who have gone above and beyond. Host Westcave Preserve and Master of Ceremonies, Evan Smith are thrilled to lead this annual gathering of Austin-area individuals and organizations dedicated to connecting kids to nature, which has proven to make them happier, healthier, smarter. The September 20 event will be held at the Austin Four Seasons Hotel and we welcome press and bloggers to join us. More information is available at: http://www.westcave.org/.

This year, four new award winners will join an impressive list of past winners as the Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin marks its fifth anniversary of this event. Winners of the E. Lee Walker Award for Collaboration; John Covert Watson Award for Vision; and Westcave Preserve Award for Enduring Dedication will be named at the September 20 event, as well as this year’s school /teacher award winner of the John F. Ahrns Award for Environmental Education. We are happy to reveal actual award winner names to interested press in advance of the event.

“I am so proud to be the Chair of Westcave Preserve, and therefore have the honor of representing the host of this amazing annual event,” said Hayden Brooks, new chair of the Westcave board of directors. “The Austin community is one of the nation’s leaders in terms of commitment and passion around getting our children outside and connecting with nature. The organizations we will honor in a few weeks are role models for us all.”

Over the past five years, the Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin has recognized the achievements of such organizations as:

And the Celebration of Children in Nature events have highlighted local schools and teachers doing amazing things, such as:

  •     Laurel Mountain Elementary teacher William Early
  •     Redeemer Lutheran School teacher Danna Keyburn
  •     Small Middle School teacher David Matthews
  •     St. Stephen’s teacher Johnny Wilson

We will soon share who will be recognized this year, and encourage press and bloggers to contact Laura Beck at laurabeckcahoon (at) gmail (dot) com for more information, to attend the event, to speak with folks from the Collaborative, Westcave, or any of the past – and present – award winners.

The Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin (CINCA) 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. CINCA is 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. CINCA delivers such amazing resources as NatureRocksAustin, http://www.naturerocksaustin.org/ 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.

More About the Children in Nature Collaborative:
The mission 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 9,000 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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