PARKS, OUTDOOR RECREATION AND EXPERIENCES – Ohio has a rich history of providing outdoor experiences, recreational opportunities and nature education. State and local parks, nature centers and recreation centers provide close-to-home opportunities for children to experience nature. Traditional nature camps allow children to be immersed in the natural world for extended periods of time. Zoos and museums share with visitors a more intimate knowledge of nature and inspire further investigation. And, each year, youth organizations like Camp Fire, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, along with non-profit organizations like the YMCA, give hundreds of thousands of Ohio’s children the opportunity to experience the wonders of nature. Whether a few minutes in a half-acre of wildflowers or a week long camping experience in thousands of 13acres of unbroken forest, outdoor experiences are vital to children’s development. The following actions can enhance the ability of these organizations to bring children quality nature experiences:
Strategy # 3: Increase public awareness of the facilities, programs and trails that exist in Ohio.
In talking with people in communities throughout the state, one of the most common requests is a “one stop shop” for information about the location of trails and natural spaces, as well as information about nature programs. Busy families want easy access to information about what is happening on any given day of the week and need detailed information to plan family outings. Collaboration among parks, recreation centers, nature centers, camps and others is needed to develop community-wide websites with this information. Ideally, that data could be linked to a statewide website. Collaboration with businesses in related areas like recreational equipment might ease the financial burden on state and local agencies in the creation of such a website. Currently, bicycle trail maps are available at www. dot. state. oh. us/bike by clicking on “Ohio Bikeways.”