The “Family Hike” masterpiece by Canadian wildlife artist Robert Bateman will be presented to the USDA Forest Service this Friday, October 22, at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. The Forest Service is acquiring the original painting to support the growth of the Robert Bateman Get to Know Program in the United States.
The Get to Know program provides youth with engaging hands-on learning opportunities through cutting-edge educational initiatives based on current research.
Bateman’s “Family Hike” masterpiece shows several generations of his family on a hike, near a bigleaf maple tree not far from their home. “For all of history, human beings have spent time out in nature, especially during their formative years. Recently, however, many young people do not spend time out of doors,” says Bateman. “An easy move to improving this situation would be for families to go for half day hikes each weekend.” Bateman is one of Canada’s best known artists, and is recognized by the Audubon Society as one of the century’s “Heroes of Conservation”. His realistic nature art reflects his commitment to ecology and the reconnection of children with nature.
The “Family Hike” presentation will be a part of the Biodiversity Education and Awareness Network Symposium, which will include a special videoconference keynote address by E.O. Wilson, father of modern biodiversity science. During the same event, 12 winning art entries from the 2010 Canadian Get to Know Contest will be unveiled at the Royal Ontario Museum. All entries must be based on first-hand experiences with nature to qualify. The 2010 U.S. Get to Know Contest for ages 18 and under is currently underway – entries are being accepted online at www.gettoknow.ca until November 30, 2010.
Bateman launched the “Get to Know” program in 2000 to encourage youth to “get to know their wild neighbors” by going outdoors and actively connecting with nature. The program’s signature initiative is the Get to Know Contest – a nature art, writing and photography contest for youth ages 5-18. After a decade of success in Canada, the Contest crossed the border in 2009, launching in California in partnership with the Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Federation, and a host of other partners. Robert Bateman painted “Family Hike” in 2009 to celebrate this historical expansion.
The Forest Service is a key partner of the Contest in the United States, and promotes it as an effective way to increase awareness of the value of America’s public lands among youth. “What a great way for young people to learn about nature than through art, photography, writing and this year’s new video category in the annual Get to Know competition,” says Tom Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. “It is especially exciting this year that our future stewards of urban forests, national forests and grasslands will go outdoors and create videos capturing ‘This is My Forest’ as a theme.”