A former columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune and author of seven books, Louv gained wide attention through his acclaimed book, Last Child in the Woods. The book reveals a direct connection between the absence of nature in the lives of today's wired youth and its negative health and societal impacts, a phenomenon Louv terms "Nature-Deficit Disorder."
Louv lists the human costs of alienation from nature as including attention disorders, depression and obesity. He reveals that environmental education and direct experiences in nature have dramatic positive effects on the physical and emotional health of children, significantly improving test scores and grade point averages, and boosting skills in problem solving, critical thinking and decision making. He also shows that contact with nature can be a powerful therapy to reduce the symptoms of ADHD, negative stresses and depression. It is also well known to be an important inspiration for environmental stewardship.
Last Child in the Woods struck a chord with parents, educators and consumers alike. Louv has used this visibility to spark the development of a nationwide movement of regional grassroots campaigns in more than 40 regions. In concert with a national coalition of conservation, education and health organizations, he is also helping lead the drive for legislation in several states to support more outdoor experiences, as well as the federal No Child Left Inside Act -- that would create incentives for schools and states to establish or expand nature education programs. Louv is also the co-founder of the non-profit Children & Nature Network.
"Louv's success in building public awareness and action to address "Nature Deficit Disorder" represents a vital contribution to both the future of our environment and the health of our children," said Audubon President John Flicker. "It will fall on the shoulders of our next generation to address the huge environmental problems of today and the new challenges that lie ahead; so it is critical that we narrow the divide between young people and the natural world."
Louv is accepting the award at a showplace of Audubon's own commitment to linking children with nature, The Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary in Tiburon, California. Richardson Bay is one of dozens of Audubon Centers nationwide designed to allow people from all walks of life to experience, connect with, and learn how to protect the natural world. Rooted in Audubon's 103-year history of nature engagement and education, Richardson Bay advances a special Audubon commitment to giving urban dwellers the same opportunities to experience and understand nature that are available to suburban and rural counterparts. Similar centers in New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle and other communities coast to coast offer a proven remedy for Nature-Deficit Disorder.
"It is gratifying to receive this honor from an organization like Audubon that has made such a major commitment to connecting future generations to the natural world," said Louv. "I'm deeply moved by the presentation of the Audubon Medal especially for what it says about the emerging movement and the work that has been done for decades -- long before my book came along -- by countless volunteers, professionals, and organizations, including Audubon itself."
Established in 1947, the Audubon Medal has been bestowed on a wide array of influential environmentalists in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of conservation and environmental protection. This distinguished environmental honor recognizes either a single, extraordinary feat or a record of significant contributions. Past recipients include Presidents (Jimmy Carter), Authors (Rachel Carson), Scientists (E.O. Wilson) and Philanthropists (The Rockefeller Family).
Editor's Note: To learn about local efforts to address Nature Deficit Disorder at Audubon, please visit www.audubon.org to locate Audubon Chapters, Centers and Sanctuaries near you.