Building Reach, Near and Far

We know that if we build a web presence with the right SEO (search engine optimization) over time we will reach those who are searching for what we are offering.

But what if your target audience isn’t looking for what you’re doing? How can we reach them?

This is the 5th year of the Frogs Are Green Kids Art Contest, so naturally those who have entered in the past are aware and may enter again. In addition, some parents and kids in countries around the world may be watching what other countries are doing and then get into the action as well. In the past 5 years we have received thousands of entries from more than 27 countries! When people are looking for something specific on the web and the right SEO is in place, those pages are found.

For example, Hong Kong has entered many beautiful artworks over the past few years, but this year in addition to the entries from China, we received entries from Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia. Last year we received some amazing art from Estonia, and this year from England, Ireland, Denmark, and Romania. Information can spread to new areas when we consistently push it out there and when the public is actively looking for it and then shares it, pushing it even further.

But the question today is how do we reach the ones nearby?

kids drawing frogs in park jersey city

The answer is by introducing people to real-time situations where they are learning new things. If we want children who live in urban areas to understand nature and why saving frogs is important, we need to bring them to the source, yes bring them to nature. How can we expect children who live in urban environments to care about wildlife when it is somewhat foreign to them? This is why many classrooms today have class pets. So children can be directly involved in the health and well-being of those animals. But there is nothing better than showing them the animals’ true habitat.

Last Spring, Frogs Are Green made a presentation to 60 first-graders at the Learning Community Charter School in Jersey City, showing them both frog art from around the world and a slideshow of some of the most unusual frogs. They learn about frogs and amphibians as part of their school curriculum and they already knew quite a bit and were very enthusiastic about the topic.

During 2014 we developed a new six-week curriculum, “Frogs, Amphibians and their Threatened Environment – Discovery and Expression through Art” which is available for download, under the education tab on our website.

During the summer and early fall, we had set up tables at quite a few community fairs and events so children could stop by, sit down and draw frogs with the art supplies we laid out. Children love to create and don’t need that much encouragement once engaged. They just need the right guidance from teachers and parents. We also know that children love animals. Many have pets at home, but it’s not the same as seeing those animals in nature.

If we want children to care about nature, we must show it to them, through field trips and when they see the real thing it will lead them to care what happens in the future.

What’s cool is that even in urban areas there are parks, such as our own Liberty State Park. Imagine the fantastic discovery students might have by seeing everything from frogs to birds, and more if they just went there with an educator.

We see a sharing cycle of teachers educating children, who bring that information home and tell their parents, who then share that with other parents, who share it with their kids and on to community leaders.

The key is getting those sparks of information and creativity started in the right places and making sure the people you want to reach are receiving it.

by Susan Newman, founder


Earth Day 2011: What Green Can Do for You

While you may read lots of Earth Day posts this spring that talk about about ways you can help the Earth, we’d like to remind you about the ways that enjoying the Earth can help you.

Most of us know that a walk in a garden or a hike in the woods makes us feel better. Until recently, however, there has been little scientific evidence for the psychological benefits of enjoying nature. But recent studies that have shown that the calming effect of being in nature can reduce stress and blood pressure, and even cholesterol levels.

photo by M.J. Rhodes

While exercise of all kinds is important for good health, studies have shown that a walk outside in nature (as opposed to a walk in a mall) decreases levels of depression; people said they felt less tense and over 90 percent reported increased self-esteem after walking outside. “Green exercise” is beginning to be considered a clinically valid treatment option for people experiencing mental distress.

Another study by psychologists at Essex University, in the United Kingdom, has shown that just a small dose of nature every day, or several times a week, can definitely improve people’s self-esteem, lift their mood, and reduce mental health stresses. Even five minutes of “green exercise” produced measurable results in the study’s participants.

What Green Can Do for Kids

Dr. Frances Kuo, director of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has done numerous studies on the effects of nature on kids. In one study involving parents of children diagnosed with ADHD, Dr. Kuo found a significant relationship between the parents’ ratings of their children’s symptoms, and the play setting — in a green play environment, the children were able to function better.

Journalist Richard Louv believes that children today are suffering from “nature deficit disorder.” His book Last Child In the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder sparked a national debate and led to a movement to reconnect kids and nature.  He argues that today’s kids are suffering both physically and emotionally because they don’t spend enough time outside.

photo coutesy of mariposachamber.org

Sounds of Green

Recently my family and I have escaped from the city for some spring walks in public gardens, in the woods, and in a swamp or two. What we enjoyed most was the absence of human-made sounds—cars, pneumatic drills, loud music, TV—and the presence of natural sounds:  leaves rustling, geese honking, crows cawing. I even heard spring peepers and a wood frog. After a long and cold winter, when all of us in the northeast suffered from cabin fever, it calmed and refreshed us—definitely what the doctor ordered.

photo by M.J. Rhodes

As Dr. Mardie Townsend, an associate professor in the School of Health and Social Development at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, has said, “Having access to appealing natural environments encourages physical activity, which has obvious benefits. We gain life by looking at life.”

Further reading:

Walking in the Park Contributes to Happiness by Sue Cartledge

Mental Health Benefits from Nature by Sue Cartledge

Children and Nature Network