Our Elevations team attended an event for Thorne Nature Experience in the fall, and it occurred to me as we sat listening that we truly had a pioneer in our midst. Then it occurred to me that the word pioneer really doesn’t do Oak Thorne justice.
Dr. Oakleigh Thorne, II started Thorne Nature Experience in 1954 with a mission to build Earth stewardship by connecting youth to nature through joyful, hands-on, place-based environmental education experiences.
Now think about this for a minute – where was the environmental movement in 1954? How many initiatives were there around environmental education and sustainability?
Now you know why I was thinking about the word pioneer. To say this man was ahead of his time is an understatement.
Unfortunately I couldn’t let the whole thing go. Dr. Thorne is so much more. He’s approachable, sincere, literally a living field guide to nature and incredibly humble. He is the consummate educator. An educator’s educator if you will.
However, that was still not enough. I had to dig a bit deeper. Since its inception, Thorne Nature Experience has touched over 250,000 children and adults giving them the opportunity to discover nature in a meaningful way. Each year, over 7,000 young people, ages 3 to 15, experience nature through the organization’s programs. Over half of those who attended were minority and low income youth, and many of these individuals would never have had the chance to experience nature in this way otherwise. From summer camps to school programs to place-based learning, Thorne Nature Experience is the quintessential learning point for all things nature.
Here’s what I learned that evening – Thorne Nature Experience is a special organization founded by a very special man (and you can read more about him in his online bio). I learned that Thorne’s programming and the young people it touches is critically important to our community’s future.
Elevations Foundation has provided community grants to Thorne for a number of years. I encourage you to get to know this organization and support the good work they are doing. This is truly a gem in our community. Wait! That’s it; Oakleigh Thorne is a Gem amongst us. Now I can let it go. Make sure to visit Thorne Nature Experience’s website.