ESA POSITION STATEMENT: Ecological Society of America Statement on No Child Left Indoors

The Ecological Society of America ( ESA ), the nation’s premier organization of 10,000 ecological scientists, is promoting “No Child Left Indoors” week as part of Earth Week, 2007, to encourage adults to connect a child with nature.   The locally begun “No Child Left Indoors” concept has grown into a national movement that encourages students, families, and adults to experience nature. Teaching children about their “home,” Planet Earth, fosters better stewardship and science literacy. 

More and more, people around the globe are migrating from rural to urban areas, and the number of people living in cities is growing twice as fast as total population growth. In fact, by this year, a majority of the world’s people will be living in cities. 1 Children growing up over the last 20 years have increasingly limited experience of the outdoors, which is contributing to decreased understanding and appreciation of the environment on which humanity depends:

  • National statistics show that visits to national and state parks have fallen off by as much as 25 percent in the last decade, and kids remain indoors watching TV and playing computer games.  
  • A recent scientific study found that more children knew the characters of Pokemon (an electronic game) than could recognize an oak tree or an otter. 
  • Science education–especially ecology and earth-based sciences–in America is falling behind that of other countries. 
  • Biological, health, and economic data indicate that children who connect with nature perform better in school, have higher SAT scores, exhibit fewer behavioral challenges, and experience fewer attention-deficit disorders. 

ESA endorses activities locally and nationally for youth to learn about ecology and experience ecosystems. SEEDS (Strategies for Ecology Education, Development and Sustainability) is an ESA program established to reduce the serious underrepresentation of individuals from certain minority groups within the field of ecology. The program’s mission is to diversify and advance the profession of ecology by promoting opportunities that stimulate and nurture the interest of underrepresented students.

The United States offers a wide array of parks and recreation areas where children can connect with a tremendously diverse natural environment, from the gulf shore waters, to coastal dunes, to wetlands, to oak hammocks, to dry prairies, to treetop canopies. 

The Ecological Society of America takes great pride in recognizing the week of April 15-22, 2007, also known as Earth Week, to celebrate “No Child Left Indoors” and to challenge all citizens–young and old–to take a child into the natural world for a shared educational experience. 

1 UNFPA State of World Population 2004. The Cairo Consensus at Ten: Population, Reproductive Health and the Global Effort to End Poverty (Press Summary Report)

Adopted by the Governing Board of the Ecological Society of America , April 2007