Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Service-Member Thankful for New Rx for Health
February 4, 2009
You may know Kentucky for its bluegrass and thoroughbred racing. What you might not know is that the state has the world’s longest cave system, the greatest length of navigable waterways and streams in the lower 48 states, and a We Can!® community site that takes advantage of these natural resources.
The Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery in Jamestown, KY, has been running We Can! programming since May 2008. It’s part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Department of Interior), which is a national We Can! partner. The hatchery’s goal is to connect children with nature, be it through a stream hike or grading fish.
This fall, the site rolled out another tool to help motivate local families to spend more time in nature with their youngsters: a “Let’s Go Outside” prescription (Rx) pad, much like the type a doctor writes on in his office. The difference is that this pad doesn’t prescribe medication, it prescribes outdoor activities—like fishing, catching lightning bugs, and talking a walk in the woods. Right now, area physicians distribute the “prescription” to patients visiting their offices, take more time to talk with patients about physical activity and nutrition, and hand out We Can! materials, too.
The Rx pad was co-developed by a group that included Judy Toppins, regional outreach coordinator for the Southeast Region Fisheries Program, and Amanda Patrick, site lead for We Can! at the hatchery.
“What I really love about the We Can! program is that it’s a grassroots effort,” says Patrick. “It dovetails with the hatchery’s efforts to educate people of all backgrounds about the health benefits of getting kids outdoors.”
Patrick is such an enthusiastic proponent of the We Can! program that she profiled it at six forums/meetings this fall:
- A Wolf Creek community gathering of mayors, physicians, and key stakeholders including the Kentucky Environmental Education Council, the Kentucky Association of Environmental Education, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- A meeting at the Mammoth Cave National Park, which included representatives from various state and federal outdoor agencies who have a vested interest in learning more about the health benefits of getting kids outdoors
- The 2008 Kentucky Association for Environmental Education Conference, serving various formal and non-formal educators across the state
- The Kentucky Governor's Conference on the Environment, attended by various agency and organization members from across the state
- The Kentucky Association of Conservation District Employees State Meeting in Jabez, KY, in September
- The Southeast Region Visitor Service’s Conference for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), which included members representing various USFWS sites across the region