Take it OutsideSeptember 26, 2008 - TRCIt can mean only one thing when we feel the crisp chill in the air, and we hear the sounds and cheers of high school football and field hockey games being played, and we see the assortment of colors on the trees – fall is officially here in Maine. Before we hunker down for the long winter season, now is a perfect time to get outside of the home and enjoy Maine’s natural beauty. It is especially important to get our younger citizens active and outdoors. Consider the fact that from 1997 to 2003, there was a significant decline (50%) in the proportion of children (ages 9-12) spending time hiking, walking, fishing and beach play. In an attempt to reverse this trend, Governor John Baldacci is leading an initiative to encourage the children and families of Maine to reconnect with nature. The “Take it Outside!” initiative provides available resources and opportunities for outdoor recreation in Maine. The current theme for “Take it Outside!” opportunities is Harvest Time. Gardens and nature camps offer children an experience to get hands-on play with nature up close. Going to a Farmer’s Market can be another valuable activity to better understand and appreciate the work that goes into farming and agriculture. One may find Farmer’s Markets at www.getrealmaine.com. Locally, check out the Orono Farmer’s Market at www.oronofarmersmarket.org or call 257-4103 for more information. Additionally, farm tours and activities are open at Cedar Run Farm in Bradford, Ireland Farms in Lincoln, and Winn Farm in Winn. Contact each farm to obtain more information about the tour and activity schedule. For those that may have an interest in fishing instead of farming, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IF&W) offers the “Hooked on Fishing – Not Drugs” program. The ultimate goal is to promote youth involvement and family togetherness, but fishing can also serve as a valuable activity for the health and attitude of a child. Taking an interest in fishing steers a child away from boredom and lack of motivation and moves one towards motivation and a positive attitude. According to IF&W, 65% of Maine’s youth have never fished before, and of those, 70% that never fished before continued to fish after involvement in the program and 80% became more aware of the environment. Contact IF&W at 287-8069 or www.maine.gov/ifw/education/hofnod for more information. Over the years, the Legislature has been supportive of healthy initiatives and environmental preservation efforts. Last fall, the voters of Maine approved funding for continued land conservation projects around the state through the Land for Maine’s Future program. Many of these projects will help ensure that the Maine outdoors remains open for public use and recreation. The outdoor opportunities are limitless and the payoff can be as well. It is important that we influence our younger citizens – our future – to get involved in the fun and positive health habits of outdoor recreation. We all win with a greater understanding and appreciation for our natural and environmental surroundings. For more information about the “Take it Outside!” initiative, go to www.take-it-outside.com. As your Senator I am committed to working on the issues that face us during these trying times. Thank you for allowing me to serve you in Senate District 30 and Maine. For questions or assistance contact me, Senator Elizabeth M. Schneider at (207) 866-7359 or toll free at 1-800-423-6900. You can also contact my Legislative Aide at the State House in Augusta at (207) 287-1515.TOWNS IN SENATE DISTRICT 30 ARE Alton, Argyle, Bradford, Edinburg, Enfield, Greenbush, Howland, Hudson, Kingman, LaGrange, Lee, Lincoln, Mattawamkeag, Maxfield, Old Town, Orono, Passadumkeag, Penobscot Indian Island, Springfield, Twombly, Veazie, Webster, and Winn.Senator Elizabeth M. SchneiderDarek M. Grant, Legislative Aide, Senate Majority Office3 State House StationAugusta, ME 04333www.mainesenate.orgNOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.