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Mantrap Valley hosts first conservation connection event

Aimee Bissonette, author of “North Woods Girl,” was the featured speaker at Mantrap Valley Conservation Club's Friday Night Conservation Connections. (Macky Warne/Enterprise)

Aimee Bissonette, author of "North Woods Girl," held a presentation Friday evening at the Mantrap Valley Conservation Club.

The event was the first of the club's Friday Night Conservation Connections.

Bissonette talked about her book, explaining the importance of the relationship between the grandmother and her granddaughter and how they can connect together with and through nature.

Many people don't often understand the importance nature has on the well being, said Bissonette, clearly explaining its positive impacts. Numerous studies show the direct link between nature and health, she noted.

One study talks about children and family relationships. Family bonding is greatly increased when their time together is spent outside in nature. Kids, in particular, engage in more cooperative play when they are out in nature instead of participating in an organized activity.

"It's that part of balance in our lives. If we're always in the house, and always on our phones, or sitting on our nice comfy couch in front of the television set, we're losing out on a lot of our stimuli," Bissonette explained.

Physicians have even started to prescribe people to spend more time in the park to awaken their stimuli.

There are even academic benefits to spending more time in nature. Studies find that kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can have very low test scores, but those exposed to a half-hour walk out in nature before their test or exam increased their scores, with results just as high as their non-ADHD peers.

All around time out in nature improves focus, and it also causes blood pressure to go down, because we are in a relaxed state, Bissonette said.

Some ways that the Park Rapids community is using to build the connection between children and nature are very simple, such as partnerships with groups like the Mantrap Valley Conservation Club or a women's club that help kids build birdhouses or plant trees.

"Bring nature into the classroom," Bissonette said.

She explained how another way to get kids involved with nature can be through school, having teachers give assignments that deal with and send students into nature.

Bissonette also talked about how it's important to go outside no matter the weather.

"There's never bad weather, only bad clothing," she joked.

She also talked about the nature pyramid. People need to get outside daily. Weekly, go rock collecting or gardening. Monthly, go to a park because the main reason parks are closing is disuse. But yearly, "go wild, go somewhere far from the noise to get out and do something you've never experienced before."

"Let the younger kids lead, and don't take the technology away from the older kids," she said.

Younger kids need to get outside and experience it for themselves. They need to use their sense to fully understand and enjoy nature.

Older kids will enjoy nature if parents let them use their phones to capture the moment and the beauty of nature.

Bissonette finished her presentation with a reading of her book, "North Woods Girl." In the tale, a grandma teaches about quiet observation, generous sharing of resources, the beauty of the forest and pond at any hour.