Richard Louv and the North Face

Today we continue our month-long celebration of nature with the third installment of Richard Louv‘s “Applying the Nature Principle to Your Life.” Read the previous posts here and here. Each week we will be publishing a post from Richard Louv and giving away a $150 gift certificate to The North Face to one lucky reader. Leave a comment to be entered in the gift certificate drawing, and click here to learn more about his latest book The Nature Principle. (Comments must be posted by midnight on Tuesday, May 8, to be eligible.) 


Applying the Nature Principle to Your Life Nature-Smart Jobs for the Future (and Right Now), Part II

Want to make a decent living and a better life? Here’s one way. Get a job – a nature-smart job. Or better yet, be a nature-smart entrepreneur. By that, I don’t mean a career devoted only to energy efficiency. That’s important, but there’s a whole new category of green jobs coming. These careers and avocations will help children and adults become happier, healthier, and smarter, by truly greening where people live, work, learn, and play. Here are a few examples.


New agrarians. Who are they? Urban farmers who design and operate community gardens. Designers and operators of vertical farms in high-rise buildings. Organic farmers and innovative vanguard ranchers who use sophisticated organic practices to produce food. The focus is on local, family-scale sustainable food, fiber, and fuel production in, near, and beyond cities.

Natural health service. Ecopsychologists—Wilderness therapy professionals—are going mainstream. Some pediatricians are now prescribing or recommending “green exercise” in parks and other natural settings for their young patients and their families. Hospitals, mental health centers, and nursing home are creating healing gardens. The Portland, Oregon, parks department partners with physicians who send families to local parks, where park rangers serve as health para profesionals. In the U.K., a growing “green care” movement encourages therapeutic horticulture, ecotherapy, and green-care farming.

Green exercise trainers. Exercising indoors and outdoors seems to produce different results. Even when the same number of calories are burned. Outside exercise appears to have better results, especially for psychological well-being. Green exercise trainers can help individuals and families individually or by organizing “green gyms” and family nature clubs. “People walkers” can help the elderly take a hike.

Natural teachers. As parents and educators learn more about the brain-stimulating power of learning in natural settings, demand will increase for nature-based schools and nature-based experiential learning, providing new opportunities for natural teachers and natural-playscape and school-garden designers.

Bioregional guides. We’ll see the emergence of citizen naturalists who, as professionals or volunteers, help people get to know where they live. One organization, Exploring a Sense of Place, in the San Francisco Bay Area, guides groups that want to have a deeper understanding of the life surrounding them. Think of these guides as nature-smart welcome wagons that help us develop a deeper sense of personal and local identity.

The list of possible careers can go on. Stream restorers, law-enforcement officials who use nature for crime prevention and improved prison recidivism, specialists in nature-based geriatric services. Once the entrepreneurial spirit kicks in, it’s easy to start thinking of products and services. And when people begin to consider the career possibilities of human restoration through nature, their eyes light up: here is a positive, hopeful view of the human relationship with the Earth, a way to make a living and a life.


Richard Louv is the author of “THE NATURE PRINCIPLE: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age,” now available in paperback, from which this piece is adapted. He is Chairman Emeritus of The Children and Nature Network and 2012 spokesperson for the CLIF Kid Backyard Game of the Year. For more information on his books, go to For a free online Field Guide to the New Nature Movement, see

17 Comments On This Post:

May 2, 2012
2:13 pm
Allison says...

A walk in the park does wonders for my mental health.

May 2, 2012
2:13 pm
Audrey says...

Awesome! My family is very into turning our space into a wee farmlette, and we spend as much time getting our kids connected to nature and ourselves far away from gadgets as possible each summer. We might have to put this on our audio book list for our next long trip.

May 2, 2012
2:15 pm
JJT says...

It is so important to let your life follow a natural course.

May 2, 2012
3:06 pm
Greg says...

The amount of time I was spending indoors for work, school, and entertainment is what ultimately made me come to value running. I never in my life imagined I would be a runner until I reached a breaking point with being cooped up so much and just got out there and ran. Two years later and I can’t get enough of the outdoors — even if I haven’t completely broken away from all the tethers that necessarily hold me indoors.

May 2, 2012
7:47 pm
Norma Wilson says...

The Nature Principle was my first read of the new year. I want everyone with contact with kids to know this book. I wish everyone everywhere at least 15 minutes in nature every day. I am going to build a sunflower room.

May 2, 2012
8:10 pm
Amanda says...

Interesting ideas. I’m curious to see how the field broadens in the next few decades.

May 2, 2012
11:57 pm
Nikki says...

As a naturalist with a background in experiential education, I often find myself nodding enthusiastically as I read Richard Louv’s work. This was no exception. Love!

May 3, 2012
8:41 am
CRO says...

I like the idea of green gyms. I will never understand why people use treadmills instead of going outside to walk or run. Unless it’s near freezing, I’d rather be outside than cooped up in the house or a gym.

May 3, 2012
10:23 am
Autumn says...

So excited, I love the idea of green jobs! I really want to go into publishing (maybe even with Algonquin one day) and I’d like the idea of making the book world more eco-friendly through other means than simply making books purely technologically accessible. I graduate in two years (hopefully) with a degree in Literature and a minor in Creative Writing and I cannot wait to get started on my career.

May 3, 2012
11:36 am
Carrie says...

Such great ideas in this article, and in the comments! I love the idea of green gyms!

May 3, 2012
12:14 pm
Mary says...

A prescription of “natural excersize” is amazing!!! I love the idea!

May 3, 2012
9:25 pm
dara rose says...

Incredibly inspirational! Richard’s ideas have created an urgency within me to be a Nature Ambassador to children and grown ups alike and to study the effects it has on brain and educational development at the University of Utah this Spring!

Keep up the Good Work Richard and Happy Trails!

May 4, 2012
2:40 am
johan says...

Awesome!Interesting ideas ……going outside to walk is much better using machines like treadmill.we should connect with nature ……..: )


May 4, 2012
7:39 am
Nancy Spitznagle says...

Love the concept. My grandkids want to come to Nana’s house all the time so they can play outside! Its our favorite “thing” to do!

May 4, 2012
4:56 pm
Delwyn says...

Time outdoors is just so important, but seems to be so easily missed in family life. I think the challenge is for all of us who parent or care for children to make unstructured outdoor play an everyday part of life. We need to put it back in the mainstream! Thanks Richard.

May 8, 2012
1:18 pm
Sarah says...

I just heard about a local CSA that my friends are participating in- it goes beyond vegetables and flowers to include milk, eggs, meat, flour and grains, and even soap! What a fantastic opportunity to support their farming neighbors and to take advantage of so many locally grown and produced items! For those who don’t live in rural areas, Urban Farming methods like Vertical Gardening are smart, very exciting ways to still eat local! Also, its a wonderful teaching tool for children to experience where their food comes from.

May 8, 2012
1:35 pm
Kathy says...

It is amazing that in such a short span of history we have moved from being a part of nature to being apart from it. It seems to me common sense that time spent outdoors is healthy for bodies and minds, instead of indoors in in artificial environments. We were created as part of the natural world, not the built world!

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