Seeing kids experience the outdoors with the freedom to choose their own adventure is powerful. I grew up in Connecticut not more than 3 miles from the sound. With a single mother working three jobs, I didn’t have the opportunity to sail or fish or hunt or experience nature the way that I did later in life. In my 20’s I moved to North Carolina, and it was through my wife, Jennifer, and her father that I was introduced to duck hunting. I was hooked, not just on the hunting, but the experience of being in remote places and the bonds that were formed over meals and adventures.
Fast forward several years, my commitment to hunting and preserving waterfowl deepened. So much so that I started a non-profit – NC Waterfowl Restoration Project Inc. As I built habitat for ducks on the Pamlico Sound, I saw the effect that nature was having my own children. Soon they were bringing friends and friends of friends to help sow seed and tend to the impoundments. Things that I thought were silly, mucking around in waders, was everything to them. A change was taking place – kids were begging to spend time outside, to go hunting, to explore. I knew then that NC Waterfowl Restoration Inc. was no longer solely about waterfowl habitat; it was about KIDS IN NATURE. Conservation and restoration is still important, and getting kids outside to Learn, Play, and Explore has become my own personal mission.
EMAIL CHRIS, firstname.lastname@example.org
Growing up in the Dominican Republic, I didn’t have the chance to hunt or fish or water-ski. What I did have was the opportunity to explore outside. I remember playing in rivers and rain-forests, and how it made me feel – free. In my early teens, I moved to New York. My outdoor time during those years was limited. It was school and homework. There was no time and nobody to take me outside.
My favorite thing about Kids In Nature is seeing the joy and excitement in the kids faces as they experience different things. I am so happy to be able to give kids the opportunity to learn, play, and explore in ways that I only dreamed of.
EMAIL VIANKA, email@example.com
I grew up in rural North Carolina. Growing up on a farm, working with animals, growing crops, fishing, hunting and participating in outdoor sports was a way of life. I did not understand the benefits of outdoor play and the opportunities the farm offered me until later in life. After college, I migrated to urban life. The older I got the more appreciated being outdoors. The lifestyle of my youth that I wanted to get away from turned out to be a lifestyle that I long-for today. A lot has changed in the lives of today’s youth; cell phones, video games and the internet have driven kids indoors to exercise free environments.
Being the father of two boys I wanted them to learn to enjoy the outdoors. Sports was on avenue to get them outside and exercising. As a youth baseball coach since 1982 that was very easy. But sports did not provide the nature experience. I wanted them to understand and appreciate nature and the outdoors. I made a conscious effort to expose the boys to the outdoors through fishing, hunting, being on the farm and anything else. When Chris began talking about Kids In Nature, I knew that it was an effort I wanted to be involved with. It is important to provide kids with an avenue to experience nature and the outdoors.
Working at KIN is like coming home. I grew up in Ohio hunting, fishing, biking, and exploring outdoors. Fields and forests were my playground. I was taught to respect and care for the natural world. As I grew older, my love for adventure grew. I spent nine years living in Northern California where I surfed big waves, rode steep mountains, pedaled through the redwoods, and camped in the meadows and along lakes of the High Sierras. I have worked in both education and hunger-relief non-profits for the past 9 years.
In August of 2016 I moved to North Carolina with my wife, Alexandra, and dog, Hooly, to be near family as we started a family of our own. I joined KIN in May of 2017. I get to combine my love for the outdoors and adventure with education and fundraising for a cause that matters. It truly does not get any better than working with and for the next generation of adventurers.
EMAIL BILLY, firstname.lastname@example.org