Largo Educates Children About Nature Through Junior Ranger Program
Newly sworn-in Junior Rangers after taking their oath at Southwest Recreation Complex.
LARGO - The City of Largo's Parks Department is educating children about the natural world around us through the Largo Junior Ranger Program. This self-directed program introduces youth ages 5-12 to Largo's Parks, the natural environment and the great outdoors. Research has shown the alarming link between the absence of nature in the lives of today's children to some of the most disturbing childhood trends: the rise of obesity, attention disorders, and depression. The Junior Ranger Program is a fun and easy way for children and families to reconnect with nature and to encourage future stewards of the planet.
Interested participants may pick up the Junior Ranger Workbook at McGough Nature Park, Southwest Recreation Complex, Highland Recreation Complex or the Parks Administration Building in Largo Central Park. The workbook is also available online at www.LargoParks.com. Largo's Junior Ranger is a four-step program. Step 1 is completion of activities in the Junior Ranger Workbook. There are special activities for children ages 5-7 and a different set for ages 8-12. Step 2 is participation in a naturalist-led walk or one of the many nature programs featured in Play! Magazine. Step 3 asks children to pick up a bag of litter or exotic plants in one of Largo's parks. Step 4 requires the child to present the workbook to a park ranger at either McGough Nature Park or the main Parks Administration Building and to take the Junior Ranger pledge. Each child who completes the four-step process will be issued an official Largo Junior Ranger badge and a signed frameable certificate that includes the pledge.
Last month, Largo's Parks Department held their largest "oath" ceremony with 90 new Junior Rangers sworn in. Over 300 children are actively involved in Largo's Junior Ranger Program. The National Park Service has been offering a similar program for several years and has been very successful in getting children interested in the natural world. As Thomas Berry, author of the Sierra Club book, The Dream of Earth says: "Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives."
All Largo children are invited to complete the Junior Ranger Program and take the pledge: I pledge to do all that I can to protect natural places; to continue learning about the natural world and share that knowledge with my family and friends.
For more information on Largo's Junior Ranger Program, call (727) 518-3047 or visit www.LargoParks.com. And remember, it starts in parks!
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