Contact:  Russ Williams

ASHEBORO, N.C.- A new coalition housed within the North Carolina Zoo Society, Asheboro, is the State's affiliate of the National Children and Nature Network. The network was co-founded by Richard Louv, author of "Last Child in the Woods" and recipient of the 2008 Audubon Medal for identifying and articulating "nature-deficit disorder" - the current disconnect between children and nature.

The N.C Zoo was recently the site of the second annual statewide gathering of stakeholders concerned with promoting children in nature and helping children develop connections to the natural world. Attendees from across the state voted to endorse a formal coalition called NCCAN! (N.C. Children and Nature!) and adopted a vision, mission, goals, and an organizational structure with a strategic action plan.

The new coalition will be led by Zoo Society Director of External Affairs Kathy Bull. Other members of the Coalition Leadership Team are: Richard Rairigh, BeActive NC; Eric Moe, REI, Inc.; Josh Thomas, Topics Education Inc. and Sierra Club; Lisa Tolley and Sarah Yelton, DENR; Randy Fulk, NC Zoo; Nilda Cosco and Robin Moore, NC State Natural Learning Initiative; Jani Kozlowski, NC Partnership for Children, Janet McGinnis, NC Office for School Readiness; and Vonda Martin, NC Parks and Recreation.

The group has been advised pro bono by Allen Cooper, a community organizer with the National Wildlife Federation.

Bull and Rairigh met with Cheryl Charles, President of the National Children and Nature Network, and presented the N.C. coalition's plan on Feb. 19.

The North Carolina Zoological Society is a private, non-profit organization that supports the North Carolina Zoo and its conservation and education initiatives. The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee A. Freeman, Secretary; Beverly E. Perdue, Governor.