‘Dr. Scott’ to speak at Summit Land Conservancy breakfast
May 3, 2016
Scott D. Sampson, known as "Dr. Scott" on PBS’s "Dinosaur Train," loves connecting people with nature and published a book last year called "How to Raise a Wild Child."
"It’s about connecting kids with nature and I’ve been ringing the alarm bell about this," Sampson told The Park Record during a phone call from San Bernardino, California. "The book is not just about connecting people with nature, it’s also about how to do that.
"While I’m certainly not the first one to do that, the book filled a niche and it’s been great," he said.
Sampson will share some of the book’s insights when he speaks at the Summit Land Conservancy’s Conservation Breakfast at Deer Valley’s Silver Lake Lodge on Wednesday, May 11.
The breakfast will begin at 8:30 a.m. Sampson will speak at 9 a.m. Sampson will do a book signing, hosted by Dolly’s Bookstore, immediately after his speech at 9:30 a.m.
There is no cost to attend the breakfast, but RSVPs are required and the deadline is May 4. RSVP by calling Sophie Islip at 435-649-9884 or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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Summit Land Conservancy, a nonprofit that works with communities to protect and preserve land and water, invited Sampson to speak at the breakfast and he immediately accepted the invitation.
"I’ve been involved with land trusts and conservancies in Colorado and I lived in Utah for a number of years and worked at the Natural History Museum at the University of Utah in the late 1990s," he said. "So, it was great to hear form the Summit Land Conservancy."
Sampson will talk about his experiences and the importance of connecting people with nature.
"It comes back to the fact that the average American kids spend seven hours looking at computer screens and less than seven minutes a day playing outdoors," he said. "That’s 90 percent less than what their parents spent outside less than a generation ago."
That concerns Sampson when he looks toward the future.
"If you think about all the public lands we have, the decision to keep those lands public and preserved with conservation easements is made by every generation," he said. "Right now, we’re raising a generation that has virtually no contact with the outdoors. I mean, why would it be that this next generation would save those places if they have never visited them or have not connection with them? It’s critical that we connect them with nature."
It’s also critical for the health of these children.
"There are skyrocketing rates of obesity, attention deficit disorder, depression and even myopia, to the point where one surgeon general said a few years ago that ‘this generation of children could become the first to have a life expectancy shorter than that of their parents,’" he said. "So, we have this health crisis on both sides — the people and the places."
Sampson has been a part of various land-saving organizations and was a board member of the Trust for Public Land in Colorado.
"I do that in part because they aren’t just saving lands up in the mountains," he said. "They are also putting aside nature in urban areas."
During the past 20 years, Sampson has seen some positive efforts in connecting people with nature, especially through a concept called the New Nature Movement.
"This movement has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last 20 years, and it’s great because it connects kids with nature in schools," he said. "There are family nature clubs showing up and people are starting to get their heads around the fact that we need to treat nature connection like we do literacy.
"We really get our kids to read, but look at nature as nothing more than a leisure option, even though its critical to their health," Sampson said. "That’s the good news."
The bad news is that this movement is largely a white, affluent movement.
"It needs to become a movement for everybody, regardless of their skin color and family income," he said. "So, the work that I’ve been particularly interested in is how can we go about doing this in underserved communities in urban areas? How do we connect kids with nature where they live and how do we get kids experiencing nature in open spaces away from their homes so they learn to care about those places?"
Sampson’s presentation will be relatively short, but he is interested in some of the public land issues in Utah.
"I don’t know how much I’ll get into, but I won’t be surprised if discussions come up about Utah’s public lands," he said.
Sampson’s road to nature and land conservancy actually started with his love of dinosaurs, and paleontology was one of the first words Sampson learned how to spell.
"There was a brief period in my life when I could spell that word and not my last name," he said with another laugh. "It is something that I was striving to be by the time I was a little kid. I knew that I could be a doctor of paleontology. Although I contemplated working in other professions, I ultimately found myself in that realm."
That led to his work in PBS’s animated "Dinosaur Train," which features a live-action segment given by Sampson.
"The honest truth is I’m the kid who never grew up," he said with a laugh. "Most kids go through a phase, which was something I certainly did, but it didn’t end."
Scott D. Sampson will speak at the Summit Land Conservancy conservation breakfast at Deer Valley’s Silver Lake Lodge on Wednesday, May 11, at 8:30 a.m. The event is free, but RSVPs are mandatory. RSVP by calling Sophie Islip at 435-649-9884 or by emailing her at email@example.com by May 4.