Research increasingly shows that time spent outdoors and in nature is beneficial for both physical and mental health. This project aims to showcase and express the many benefits that stem from time spent in nature. In the project, middle school students are encouraged to pick one of three vehicles of expression (art, writing, photography) and use that vehicle to articulate and illustrate just what nature and the outdoors mean to them.
Students will be taken out one day during the school year to a Wood River Land Trust preserve. At the preserve, they will learn more about the importance of protecting areas of nature, and the mission of the Wood River Land Trust. There are countless benefits that come as a result of protecting valued landscapes “close to home.” Not only do protected landscapes facilitate physical wellness by providing open spaces for activities, but they also contribute to mental wellness. These protected spaces in nature allow families, friends, and other community members to indulge in shared experiences outdoors. Whether it is a family picnic, a walk with a grandparent, or just a hike with a friend, protected spaces in nature provide opportunities for community members to better connect with each other.
Afterwards, students are encouraged to wander around the preserve to reflect on the mission of the Land Trust, what those landscapes mean to each student, and how he/she may articulate that feeling through individual artistry.
Students will then be given a forum to showcase their work through a presentation at a local venue, hosted by WRLT Staff. WRLT may choose some students artwork to be featured in promotional materials that will help inspire others to get out and explore these special areas, and to spur community-led action in order to protect them.