Today, 4-H—the world’s largest youth development and empowerment organization—announced a special initiative, one that is targeted at bringing kids and families closer to nature, with a founding grant from Disney. Through the newly launched Connecting Urban Youth to the Environment program, kids and teens from Los Angeles and Orlando to Honolulu, New York and Austin can take part in interactive activities that’ll enable them to discover and protect the planet we share.
Disney Post recently caught up with 4-H President and CEO Jennifer Sirangelo to learn more about this important initiative and why it’s vital for kids to learn more about the environment.
Why are outdoor experiences important for kids?
Jennifer Sirangelo (JS): Kids need engaging and fun ways to connect with the environment in order to become good stewards of the planet. Programs like Connecting Urban Youth to the Environment are a great way to accomplish this. We encourage all kids to find their nearest 4-H club to get involved in helping to make the planet a greener place to live.
What was the impetus behind the creation of Connecting Urban Youth to the Environment?
JS: One of our programs, Exploring Your Environment, provides fun, interesting and hands-on experiences to help young people learn more about the environment around them. We were searching for a way to somehow utilize that curriculum to reach kids who are likely not as environmentally aware as they could be. Through Disney’s support, we were able to create the Connecting Urban Youth to the Environment program using Exploring Your Environment, and we are now able to reach youth in six urban areas across the U.S.
How has nature inspired you and your work?
JS: As a young girl growing up in a small town, I learned that the world is a much bigger place during family vacations. Special memories include traveling to America’s national parks. One of my favorites was a trip to Yellowstone National Park, where I saw moose running through town and Old Faithful blasting steaming water high into the air. That sparked an early interest in science and the natural world for me. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to give today’s young people access to stimulating experiences and programs in science and the environment through our work in 4-H and to scale our impact by collaborating with such committed organizations and companies like Disney.
You can learn more about the Connecting Urban Youth to the Environment program by visiting 4-H.org.