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Extension Notes: Share the benefits of the great outdoors with youth

By: Rebecca Konopka
Carter County Extension Agent

Summer and warmer weather are here. Now is the time to start getting young people outdoors and letting them experience Mother Nature.  

Youth can receive numerous benefits from getting outdoors and into nature. Sunlight exposure can help reduce nearsightedness and increase vitamin D levels. Playing outdoors also increases physical activity which helps reduce their risk for becoming overweight or obese. 

Exploring nature can also help young people improve their relationship skills and reduce stress, anger and aggression. Research has shown that youth who regularly interact with their natural environment are better communicators, better cooperators and misbehave less than their peers. Learning in nature requires young people to pay attention to the environment around them. This unique teaching method helps youth focus better once they return to the classroom. Nature also promotes a hands-on learning environment, which can lead to improved academics. 

You can encourage youth to spend more time outdoors in many different ways. Here are some ideas: 

  • Plant a garden filled with all kinds of different vegetables or flowers.  
  • Make it educational. Teach your child about different trees, plants and bugs that live in your yard.  
  • Weather permitting, set aside a time each day for outdoor playtime and exploration.  
  • Take a walk or a hike. Many Kentucky communities have increased their walkability and their built environment. Take advantage of local trails or, on the weekends, go explore one of the numerous beautiful trails found in the state’s parks, nature preserves and arboretums.  
  • Youth and their families are invited to participate in the Carter County Extension Office’s monthly Hike & Learn programs.   The next hike will be the 1.5 mile Fishing & Nature Trails at the Grayson Lake US Army Corps of Engineers (Spillway) on June 17th at 9:00 AM.   All youth who participate in the hike will also receive Kid’s Bucks that can be redeemed at the Carter County Farmer’s Markets this summer.  

For more information about contact the Carter County Extension office.   Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.  

Other Upcoming Events:

  • Senior Farmer’s Market Vouchers will be distributed on Monday, June 27th at Northeast Community Action Agency in Olive Hill from 12:30-3:30 and on Tuesday, June 28th from 12:30-3:30 in Grayson at the Farmer’s Market Shed (behind Extension Office).


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