Getting Children Outside to Discover the Forest

In an effort to encourage children to spend more time outdoors and reconnect with nature, the USDA Forest Service and the Ad Council have announced that they are joining Universal Pictures to launch a series of public service advertisements (PSAs).

The ads will feature characters and footage from Universal and Illumination Entertainment’s upcoming 3D-CG feature Dr Seuss’ The Lorax. Initially launched in 2009, the Discover the Forest campaign aims to encourage children and their families to get outside and experience the many benefits of nature.

The goal of the campaign is to instill a life-long love for nature in children. Created pro bono by Universal Pictures, the new English and Spanish television, radio and outdoor PSAs feature the Lorax, a symbol of forest conservation, to encourage children to explore and enjoy nature everywhere and become lifelong stewards of the forest and its beauty.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, more than 245 million Americans live within 100 miles from a National Forest or Grassland. However, children in the U.S. spend fifty percent less time outdoors than they did twenty years ago, according to the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

Research shows that children who play outside have lower stress levels and more active imaginations, become fitter and leaner, develop stronger immune systems and are more likely to become environmentally conscious in the future.

All of the PSAs encourage children and their parents to visit ( where they can find ideas for outdoor activities, an interactive map tool — powered by Google and Nature Find — that enables users to search for nearby forests and parks, as well as downloadable activities for them to print and take with them when they visit.

The Ad Council and the USDA Forest Service will promote the new PSAs through a multifaceted social media effort on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is an adaptation of the classic tale of a forest creature who shares the enduring power of hope. The animated adventure follows the journey of a 12-year-old as he discovers the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world.

Danny DeVito lends his vocal talents to the iconic title character of the Lorax, while Ed Helms voices the enigmatic Once-ler. Also bringing their talents to the film are Zac Efron as Ted, the idealistic youth who searches for the Lorax, and Taylor Swift as Audrey, the girl of Ted’s dreams.

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Rakesh Raman