(April 24, 2019) Catherine Read sits down with Kurt Moser and Nancy Striniste of NoVA Outside to talk about their organization, as well as their 8th annual Student Environmental Action Showcase scheduled for April 23, 2019.
NoVA Outside is an alliance of educators, schools, businesses, nature centers, nonprofit “green groups” and government agencies that strive to connect people of all ages to the natural environment. NoVA Outside is the regional affiliate of the statewide Virginia Association of Environmental Education (VAEE). Moser notes that it is very easy to get involved with their local group. People who are interested can join the VAEE for a $25 membership fee and have access to their newsletter, attend networking events and meet others who are passionate about the environment.
Nancy Striniste is an educator and a landscape architect who specializes in planning outdoor spaces with children in mind. Her designs incorporate natural materials that are intended to connect children to the outdoors and encourage them to explore and use their imagination. Children today have less and less free time to play and explore in nature, and Nancy is committed to designing environments where children can spend unstructured time outside, and connect with nature so that they foster a love of the outdoors. This connection forms a foundation for them to connect to the natural environment, so that they grow up to be environmentally conscious adults.
Nancy recently published a book entitled Nature Play at Home: Creating Outdoor Spaces that Connect Children to the Natural World. Nancy decided to write this book because she noticed that children today do not have the opportunity to roam and play freely in nature, as children have in generations past. The book is meant to be a resource to help bring nature to the spaces where children spend their time. The book has threads of sustainable landscaping and child development, and offers a lot of ideas of transforming all types of spaces from backyards to schoolyards.
The various chapters tackle different things such as challenging bodies by using natural materials, inspiring imaginations through outdoor play and using fragrance and sound to awaken the senses. There are step-by-step do it yourself projects, hundreds of photographs and illustrations, themed plant lists – all with the goal of inspiring families and communities to create natural play spaces.
Kurt Moser is excited to welcome approximately 500 elementary, middle and high school students to the 8th annual Student Environmental Action Showcase on April 23rd at George Mason University. The event is designed for students to be able to share and showcase their ideas of how to solve environmental challenges. In addition to the student projects that will be on display, industry partners will conduct hands-on exhibits in order to expose students to new ideas and inspire them to continue their creative work.
Over the years the conference has grown and evolved. When they first got started, the event was simply students showcasing their projects. Today, additional partners are brought in, such as a Virginia Tech student group who will demonstrate how computer programming can be used to help solve environmental challenges. Students also have an opportunity to sit down with legislators to talk about how they can be effective advocates for the issues that they care deeply about.