Technology is all around us nowadays, especially when it comes to phones. I find myself scrolling through lists of restaurants, new music, but what about the great outdoors?
Our phones can still connect us with the natural world. For example, there are great nature-centered applications that focus on the identification of flora, fauna, and fungi. I don’t see applications centered on family adventures in city parks. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has partnerships with organizations like Valadrian Creative. Valadrian Creative has developed an application called “NorthWest Family Daycation” to connect families with nature in Portland, OR.
Growing up in the big city of Miami, Florida there weren’t many options to visit natural areas without a car. The first time I visited the Everglades I was fifteen years old on a school trip. There were two barriers of access to nature that I faced. Public transportation, and the absence of natural parks. There were few bus stops in my neighborhood, that connected to downtown. This posed a problem for people who relied solely on public transportation. In the neighborhood I grew up in there were little to no trees in my suburban concrete jungle. The absence of natural parks created hot microclimates because of few trees, and wetlands. There was also no smartphone that could show accessible trails nearby.
NorthWest Family Daycation connects people with nature by showing parks nearby their neighborhood. The application pinpoints your GPS location and finds parks in your area. Certain parks have “Daycations”. Daycations provide activities for young families to participate in. Daycations such as “Ancient Trees & Dinosaurs” takes families on an adventure through time, connecting flora that has been around since the age of the dinosaurs. Parents can help their kids connect with nature that is engaging and fun for everyone. The project I’m working on during my internship is creating Daycations in underrepresented and low-income communities, so they don’t have to go very far to experience the outdoors. This project redefines what nature means to people. Experiencing the outdoors shouldn’t have to be strenuous hiking, it could be a walk in a city park. By helping the next generation connect with nature we can help promote the protection of the land.
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service
Location: Portland Regional Office