SARASOTA COUNTY – In celebration of the Sept. 24-30 “Take a Child Outside Week,” Sarasota County is offering an array of free events to help children and families explore and connect with nature.

From a 3-hour kick-off event featuring family-friendly activities, educational games and live reptiles to hiking and biking through the wonders of natural Sarasota, 10 events during the week focus on getting children and their families more outdoor time together and creating deeper, lasting connections to our natural world.

“Research indicates time in nature builds confidence, promotes creativity and imagination, teaches responsibility, improves focus and academic success, gets kids moving, improves immune function, and reduces stress and fatigue,” said Dr. Katherine Clements, ecology and natural resources educator with UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County.

The research by academic leaders, health care professionals and others underpin the aim of “Take a Child Outside Week,” initiated by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and based upon author Richard Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods” book.

Louv, a child advocacy expert, lamented in his book what he termed a “nature-deficit disorder” in many children today, as they turn increasingly to online and indoor activities at the expense of time spent outside exploring and playing in nature.

One recent study showed that children are spending only half as much time in nature as children did two decades ago.

To support local families in addressing that gap, Sarasota County Extension partnered with the county’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources department on a lineup of 10 free, local events for “Take a Child Outside Week,” including:
• Nature Explorations at Extension (1-4 p.m. Sept 24): Family drop-in event with nature-based games and activities, UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, Twin Lakes Park
• Sunset Family Bike Ride (6-7 p.m. Sept. 25), The Legacy Trail, Osprey Junction Trailhead
• Explore the world of Incredible Insects (9-10:30 a.m. Sept. 26), Sleeping Turtles Preserve North
• Saltwater Fishing (6-7:30 p.m. Sept. 27), Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Beach
• Nature at Night (7-8:30 p.m. Sept. 28), UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, Twin Lakes Park
• Sunset Moonrise Adventure Walk (7-8:15 p.m. Sept. 28), Celery Fields Regional Stormwater Facility
• Mangrove EcoWalk (8:30-10:30 a.m. Sept. 29), Lemon Bay Park and Environmental Center
• Bats and Birds (6:30-7:30 p.m. Sept. 29), Venice Area Audubon Rookery
• Invasive Plant Removal Project (8:30-9:30 a.m. Sept 30), Ted Sperling Nature Park
• Treasure Quest Family Event (10:30-11:30 a.m. Sept. 30), Urfer Family Park

Registration is required to attend. Find your event(s) at

Also, learn more about why and where to connect with nature locally: Find more Extension events at, and Find a Sarasota County Park at

Questions? Call 311 (941-861-5000 from outside Sarasota County) or email