Outdoor Education: An Entry to Careers In Science and Math For Diverse Populations (page 2)

By — Nature Deficit Disorder Special Edition Contributor
Updated on Jan 26, 2011

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Outdoor youth programs delivered through local schools can be especially effective in communicating the importance of science and math to students of varied backgrounds. In the Chicago region, more than 6,000 public school students participate every year in the Mighty Acorns program, which takes them on three field trip experiences annually to a nearby public resource. Students have an opportunity to engage in conservation actions such as collecting seeds and planting seedlings in addition to exploring the outdoors on their own. Staff members are consistently amazed at how passionately children perform their work when entrusted to make a positive difference on the land. Trusting the child’s lead in the outdoors and nourishing his or her spirit of discovery, together with finding opportunities to interact with people who are passionate about the environment, may constitute a set of actions that go a long way toward cultivating the next generation of STEM professionals.


1. U.S. Department of Labor [USDL]. (2007). The STEM workforce challenge: The role of the public workforce system in a national solution for a competitive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce. 2. Chawla, L. (1999). Life paths into effective environmental action. Journal of Environmental Education, 31, 15-27. 3. Burdette, H.L. & Whitaker, R.C. (2005). Resurrecting free play in young children. Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 159, 46-50. Emilian Geczi coordinates the Chicago Wilderness Leave No Child Inside initiative. He works with environmental, educational, faith-based, and other organizations to support programs that connect children with the outdoors. He has an M.S. degree in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. To learn more about the Leave No Child Inside initiative or the Mighty Acorns program, you can visit the website or contact Emilian at 312-545-1007. Rev. Keith Cerk serves on the Chicago Wilderness Faith-Based Advisory Group and on the Youth Services Board of Kids Hope United.  He pastors an urban, multi-cultural congregation and has worked with at-risk children, youth and gang members for over 20 years.  Keith is a wilderness canoe trip guide who also co-directs a nature adventure program which uses the outdoors to engage children’s interest in the sciences.  He loves to point out that adults in “green collar” careers can get paid for doing the same kind of fun activities the kids are doing.  A certified Wilderness First Responder, Keith holds M.A. and M.Div. degrees and has been trained by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and the Wilderness Awareness School.  He can be reached via his church’s website:

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