About four years ago, a small group of young diverse leaders gathered in Nebraska City, NE, as part of the Children & Nature Network’s annual Grassroots Gathering. We wondered what impact might be made by young leaders immersed in their communities and connecting to the outdoors and natural world. We arrived at that meeting inspired by the support of the Children & Nature Network and the words of Richard Louv. An idea was catalyzed: the Natural Leaders Network.
The Natural Leaders Network empowers a worldwide youth movement to strengthen the bond between children and nature. Our vision is to build and cultivate a network among Natural Leaders around the world. The created network will further develop and contribute to the mission by resolving barriers to getting diverse youth outdoors and providing opportunities to connect to each other and nature.
I’m riding a wave of energy born within the new nature movement, and that energy is constantly amplified by the Natural Leaders Network. During the Legacy Camp (which you can read more about in Katia Rossi’s blog), I felt the power of change happening in front of my eyes. To witness Natural Leaders pass on their knowledge, passion and support to more members and welcome them to our tribe is an unforgettable feeling.
I thought I understood the power of ideas, vision and the written word, but watching what has unfolded during this year has made me trust in our work unlike any other time before. Thanks in large part to Richard Louv’s words and vision, the Children & Nature Network is an idea turned into reality. The Children & Nature Network empowers young diverse leadership through the Natural Leaders Network. The Natural Leaders are from Kodiak Alaska; El Paso Texas; Chicago, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, and in between. They all come ready and willing to let this movement into their lives. Others of us get to look upon their faces and tell them they are not alone in this -- that the Natural Leaders Network was created by and for them and fueled by their passion is a powerful message. The different roads, backgrounds and lives they have lived that led them to be a part of this creates an endless supply of energy, motivation and inspiration. I’ve never had as much confidence as I do now in what we represent: a place, a memory, a cause, the research, a call to action in the end. This all leads to a place where we can all find our voices and empower others to own this movement with us.
Already, many of the Natural Leaders are joining together with the Nature Clubs for Families, the Natural Leaders Teachers, and leaders of the New Nature Movement to plan for the future through events like Let’s G.O.! (Get Outside) in April 2013.
We need you, yes you. If you are reading this, then I am talking to you. It is your voice that echoes our message, that every child has a right to enjoy the natural word around them. It is your actions that make a difference by inviting others to share in your knowledge and building community through nearby nature. It is our movement that leads the way.
- mucho love
JUAN D. MARTINEZ