Opt In Outdoors

Expanding children's love for nature


Background Information

Growing up in Wilmette, Chase’s community has given her a very worry-free childhood and access to one of the most beautiful and pristine lakes in America.  According to Pure Michigan, these lakes hold about 20% of the world’s fresh water and are often overlooked in the North Shore area. Despite living next to Lake Michigan, however, she felt a draw to the outdoors that was hard to obtain in the suburban setting of Wilmette. In the North Shore, there is a general lack of appreciation for the environment. Chase aims to create an outdoor-based culture that gets the next generation excited to help preserve their environment. Wilmette and Chicago are both full of their own forms of nature and pockets of outdoor culture. Chase hopes to teach kids how to expand their love for nature even in a setting that may not be as outdoor oriented. As a result of this connection with the outdoors, students will begin to understand the importance of caring for the environment. After utilizing this amazing environment and setting, Opt In Outdoors believes we all must take an active role in preserving these pockets of nature.

Implementation of Project

Things went very smoothly when Chase started her project.  She had two partner organizations—a local nature education center and a local farm— that were both very eager to assist and participate.  She asked friends if they would like to volunteer and ended up with 5 volunteers who were very eager to help. Finding participants was probably the biggest challenge for Chase. Once she asked her neighbor/family friend to participate, they reached out to more people and she ultimately had 12 prospective participants. Once dates were concretely set, her next biggest challenge was figuring out liability since she was working with little kids. Chase’s mother, a lawyer, said she would help her draft up a document that could help Chase if anything were to happen. This became easily solvable by reaching out to her partner organizations since they are both operated through the park district and run on the same liability form.

Results of Project

In the end, Chase is very proud of both her original project plan and the adapted version due COVID-19. She created activity bags for 7 participants that included seed starting kits and a hiking scavenger hunt. These bags provided easy and fun activities for kids to do during quarantine and helped people get outside when they are spending more time indoors than ever. Chase spent a total of 10-15 hours on the project but it would have been 25 if she had been able to carry out the excursions. Chase also fundraised $80 to buy the materials for the activity bags through selling stickers that she designed.

What’s Next

Chase’s next goal in education is to learn about sustainable agriculture through her summer internship at an urban farm. She hopes that this experience will allow her to learn about how to make food production more sustainable for the environment which is a topic that she is very passionate about. Now that her CLP is over, she hopes to reschedule her original excursions for the fall. Chase thinks that these activities would be very beneficial for the participants and cannot be fully replaced with activity bags.