Voyage Chicago Interview with Daniel Kielson
Today we’d like to introduce you to Daniel Kielson.
Daniel, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in Rochester, New York, open spaces were special, and I was fortunate to grow up in a place where we were able to get outside into nature. I remember the 15-minute walks to school through the woods very well, I have always loved to explore. When I walked to school, I observed, heard and smelled the wonders of nature. At summer camp, while playing ‘Capture the Flag’, I would disappear, hide in the woods, and then go searching to get the flag. I recognized and appreciated the benefits of walking through wooded areas at an early age. There’s a plethora of research, fairly recent research, that points to the cognitive, emotional, and social benefits of spending time outdoors.
There was a growing need for opportunities in the community and in the schools to lift the barrier of entry to the outdoors. I picked up and read Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods (published in 2005), the book addresses children’s decreased exposure to nature and how the resulting nature-deficit disorder hampers their development. From this idea, the BackYard Nature Center (BYNC) non-profit was formed. And having written the phrase, “Connecting children and adults with the wonders of nature,” in 2007, it wasn’t until a year or two later, and after much discussion by the Board members, that we really began to understand its meaning. Everyone has their own personal meaning to the word, “wonders”. And especially as it relates to “nature,” from beauty to an opportunity for a good workout cutting a buckthorn tree, and everything in between…
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