Students at Plattsmouth Elementary took learning outdoors to tackle 'nature deficiency'

Posted at 7:49 PM, Sep 15, 2022

PLATTSMOUTH, Neb. (KMTV) — Playing in dirt, climbing up hills, making art and learning about nature safety.

"I'm excited to do the healthy movements and what you should be doing in the sun, finding certain things, stuff like that," said Evan Baker, a fourth-grader at Plattsmouth Elementary School.

From decorating little pots to searching for fake bugs in plants, Evan and and all students at Plattsmouth Elementary stepped outside to improve their connection with nature.

"Youth as a whole are engaging less in their natural environment due to technology, due to the pandemic — there's just a real void there," said Heather Henrichs, a professor at Nebraska Methodist College.

Occupational therapy students from Nebraska Methodist College (NMC) walked the elementary students through the different stations.

The goal was to "engage with nature, improve student confidence and comfort in nature, increase mindfulness and physical activity, through connection with nature," said Hannah Wieger, the academic fieldwork coordinator for NMC.

This program doesn't just teach the little kids about ways to interact with nature; it helps the college students prepare for their future roles, too.

"It kind of gives you that insight on things that aren't working, but that you can adapt and change to make them work for certain kids and certain students," said Andrea Zyla, an occupational therapy student at NMC.

This is the second year these two schools have partnered and Evan was excited to hear it was coming back this year.

"I had good memories from last year here and I had a good time," he said. "I learned that some sunscreens dry faster and shorter than other ones and some are more oily than other ones and it really helped out."

The college students said they're helping with nature deficiency, but Evan doesn't know about that — he's just excited to be outdoors.

"Really gets you excited because you are always out in the sun, playing with your friends, just being a kid," Evan said.

Both Plattsmouth Elementary and the occupational therapy students hope to continue this program in the years to come with the help of the Plattsmouth Community Foundation Fund.

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