Outdoor Recreation and Restoration Engagement for Military Caregiver Professionals

first_imgDuring a recent Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) webinar, the audience, composed of military caregiving practitioners and professionals, was polled regarding perceptions of outdoor recreation and caregiving.  Participants were asked three questions.The first question was: “Do you feel that a person involved in delivering outdoor recreation programming could at times find themselves in a caregiver role?”  About 95 percent of participants answered yes, and a small number answered “unsure.” No one answered no. The second question was:  “I know from experience that service men and women have experienced significant therapeutic benefits from outdoor recreation.” About 41 percent answered “strongly agree” and another 50 percent answered “agree.” Less than ten percent answered “no opinion” and no one disagreed with the statement. When the third question was posed, “Is there room in the military caregiver definition to include occasional caregivers who provide important and valuable outdoor recreation and restoration opportunities?” participants answered 100 percent in the affirmative. This points to a need for additional educational and training needs for occasional caregivers, especially in the area of outdoor recreation and restoration and related environmental education topics.Environmental Education: Engaging Military CommunitiesTo begin to address this gap, Cornell University’s Civic Ecology Lab and EECapacity program are conducting a professional development course entitled, Engaging Military Communities, that is designed for environmental educators and community development professionals interested in working with members of the military community. Exposure to nature through outdoor recreation, gardening, tree planting and similar activities has been especially valuable to returning warriors and their families. The potential impacts include improved personal health, resiliency, strengthening family ties and community cohesion.The objective of this course is to increase participants’ capacity to develop programs that increase environmental awareness and utilize the therapeutic value of nature in building resilient communities.  Topics covered in this course will include:Current environmental education related practices that address military communities.Environmental education programming for military families and personnel.The role of nature for community building and therapy for veterans.Environmental Education Guidelines and Military Communities.This online course duration is four weeks, beginning 05/12/2014 and continuing thru 06/08/2014. This is a 4-week course focuses on developing group projects relevant to the work of environmental education (EE) that addresses the unique perspectives of military communities.Participants will work on crafting a program plan (outdoor adventure, garden party, tree planting activity, etc.) that combines environmental education in a way that addresses the specific needs of veterans, military families, and/or the broader military community. This class project will serve as one of the key outcomes of the learning experience. Participants will also be exposed to environmental education topics through video, weekly webinars with leaders in the field, as well as print publications.Note: The course is limited to 30 participants and registration is open from now thru 05/10/2014. To register, please visit the EELearning Portal.This post was written by Keith Tidball, Ph.D., Senior Extension Associate with the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University. Dr. Tidball is a member of the MFLN–Military Caregiving Concentration team. This blog was posted to the Military Families Learning Network site on April 11, 2014.last_img

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