The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden presents “Children in Nature – Prescription for a Healthy Planet” during its Eighth Annual Conservation Symposium, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Jan. 11 at the County Education Office, 4400 Cathedral Oaks Road.

Join educators, policymakers, conservationists and parents as we welcome world-renowned author Richard Louv and local leaders to explore the issue of reconnecting our children to nature. 

The symposium will dig into how nature connection makes kids happier, healthier and smarter and what our community can do to develop deeper connections between children and nature in our schools, at home and in the world.

Children today are in nature less than ever before, and they are suffering for it, with obesity, depression, attention disorders, and a dampening of creativity. Without that connection to nature, we are also losing the next generation of conservationists.

Richard Louv is the author of Last Child in the Woods and the just released Our Wild Calling.  Louv will be the recipient of Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s Pritzlaff Conservation Award, which is given to a global trailblazer in conservation.

In addition to Louv, the symposium will feature regional nature connection leaders, including: Dan Fontaine, Wilderness Youth Project, and Marlen Limon- Integrating Nature into our Education System;
Fernando Gomez, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority- Engaging Diverse Communities; Mark Wilkinson, SB County Trails- Local Healthy People, Healthy Trails initiative with Sansum Clinic; Laurie Bostick Cammon, pediatrician in Santa Clara- Santa Clara County Park Prescription Program; Bridget Lewin, UCSB Environmental Studies- Kids in Nature Program, Translating Experiences into Conservation Work; Scot Pipkin, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and Chris Lortie, NCEAS- Cultivating a Connection to Nature: Tools, Apps and Citizen Science; and Jennifer Adams, Latino Outdoors- Engaging the LatinX Community.

“We are incredibly proud to profile regional and national leaders on the importance of connecting children and families to nature,” Botanic Garden Executive Director Steve Windhager said. “Science has proven that reconnecting our children to nature helps make them smarter, happier and healthier. As a result of ongoing outreach efforts over the past two years, we are happy to hear the regular squeals of delight and joy as the garden teems with children and families bounding through our fields and forests. The symposium will capture the science, the practices and the pathways to connect kids and families to nature on the central coast.”

To register, go to

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is widely regarded as a model botanic garden. It is a member of the American Alliance of Museums, and as such is dedicated to research, education, and conservation of California native plants.

The SBBG differentiates itself from being just another beautiful place with open space and pretty flowers. The garden is a living museum where collections-based research preserves California native plants and displays them in a beautiful setting.

The annual symposium, established in 2012, is designed to address topics that are critical to environmental conservation in our region, as well as nationally and internationally.