Upcoming Event Brings the Great American Backyard Campout and American Girl to the Greenbelt in Staten Island

Lanie, the American Girl Doll of the Year for 2010, loves exploring nature in her urban backyard. She loves gardening, hiking, looking for ladybugs, listening to bird calls, and discovering urban wildlife, and wants to share these interests with children and their families. On June 26, from 12 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the Carousel for all Children at Willowbrook Park in the Greenbelt, the National Wildlife Federation Great Backyard Campout®, American Girl, and the Greenbelt will team up to offer a glimpse into Lanie’s world, with an afternoon of nature-themed activities including container gardening, hiking, composting, crafts, live animals, and more.

According to the National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There™ campaign, the average boy or girl only spends 4-7 minutes outdoors every day. The Great American Backyard Campout is a way to replace hours of screen time with green time, and turn indoor kids into happier outdoor kids, healthier in mind, body, and spirit.

Aside from being a great partnership and a memorable afternoon, the June 26th event will “make children and families more aware of the benefits of spending time together in the outdoors,” according to Maritza Cuevas, Director of Education for the Greenbelt.

Willowbrook Park is an excellent site for an introductory urban nature experience. Songbirds such as Red-winged blackbirds, waterfowl such as Canada geese, and waders such as Great Egrets can be found in and around the lake. Butterflies flutter by a colorful array of shrubs and flowers. There are many different evergreen and deciduous trees that provide shade and can serve as an introduction to tree identification skills. Willowbrook Park is also a very accessible urban park. The Carousel for All Children at Willowbrook Park is a short walk from the S44 bus from the St. George Ferry and the S59 bus from Port Richmond, and is close to Richmond Avenue, the Martin Luther King Jr. Expressway (Rt. 440), and the Staten Island Expressway (Rt. 278). To learn more about Willowbrook Park in the Greenbelt, and all the great things the Greenbelt has to offer, visit www.sigreenbelt.org , www.nyc.gov/parks , and view the Greenbelt’s blog at www.greenbeltpark.blogspot.com .

Willowbrook Park is part of the Staten Island Greenbelt, which includes over 2,800 acres of natural areas and over 35 miles of hiking trails in central Staten Island. On June 26, children and their families will become familiar with ways to explore nature and learn skills they can apply on future hikes, nature studies, or even a campout.

For more information about National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout, visit www.online.nwf.org/site/PageNavigator_2010_home , and to discover more about American Girl’s 2010 Girl of the Year character, Lanie, visit www.americangirl.com/girloftheyear/2010
To register for the National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout/American Girl June 26th event, call (718)351-3450 or e-mail naturecenter@sigreenbelt.org .

Written by Jessica Kratz
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