Lower School naturalists experienced a total of 187 nature-based experiences, including journeys, forest days, canoe and kayak adventures, and nature study lessons here on campus during the 2022-2023 academic year.
By Lauren Hagan, LS Naturalist Teacher
Among many other benefits, researchers have found that going outside into nature: builds confidence, promotes creativity and imagination, teaches responsibility, encourages critical thinking, increases balance and agility, reduces stress and anxiety, and nurtures a love of our earth. Richard Louv states, “Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.” Think about that time when you have just begun a hike or you have stepped outside to work in your garden, and you realize you are taking the first full, deep breath of your day. That is what nature can do.
This year as a Lower School our young naturalists have experienced a total of 187 nature-based experiences, including journeys, forest days, canoe and kayak adventures, and nature study lessons here on campus. That is 187 opportunities for our young scholars to reap the many benefits listed above. Believe me, I have seen our students in action, and I know what the researchers say is true. Out in the field, our naturalists are creative and confident. We witness bursts of pure joy and notice calm and peaceful learners as we reflect on our experiences. Teachers have time to relax and observe their students in a different environment.
I am beyond grateful to get to do this crucial work on a daily basis. In fact, ask your Lower School students how we begin and end all of our journeys. We practice gratitude for nature, our school community, our incredible bus drivers, and the opportunity to take time outdoors to be present for and astonished by the wonders of nature. In my opinion, our young naturalist program is nothing short of miraculous, not because of me but because of our young learners who embrace the program with open arms, hearts, and minds.
Thank you to all the students, teachers, bus drivers, Operations team members, administrators, and parents who make this program possible. Promise me that you will spend time outdoors this summer. Put away your screens and take a creek walk or a hike, go canoeing or kayaking, visit a park, climb a tree, roll down a hill, observe fireflies, observe the moon and stars. Nature is all around us, and there is so much to discover.
Twenty-eight students, faculty, and administrators represented University School of Nashville at the National Association of Independent Schools’ People of Color Conference and the Student Diversity Leadership Conference in St. Louis, Missouri.
USN Mission: University School of Nashville models the best educational practices. In an environment that represents the cultural and ethnic composition of Metropolitan Nashville, USN fosters each student’s intellectual, artistic, and athletic potential, valuing and inspiring integrity, creative expression, a love of learning, and the pursuit of excellence.