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New Missouri magazine will challenge kids to Xplor the outdoors

From the Missouri Department of Conservation 

-- A multi-media nature-tainment mash-up called Xplor is the Missouri Department of Conservation’s latest tool for reconnecting children with nature. The bimonthly magazine is free for Missourians, and will debut in February 2010.

The magazine is designed to address child advocates’ concern over children’s growing alienation from nature. Author Richard Louv described the phenomenon as “nature deficit disorder” in Last Child in the Woods. The 2005 book distilled much of what was known about the phenomenon’s negative effects on children and society. It also spawned a national movement to connect kids to the outdoors, something the Conservation Department has been working at since the 1930s.

Recognizing that young people today get information in dramatically different ways than previous generations, the Conservation Department is devising a challenging, exciting tool that combines the visual, tactile appeal of a full-color magazine with the audio and video capabilities of the Internet.

“We want to create a place where kids can go to learn fascinating things about the outdoors that will encourage them to go out and explore the outdoors themselves,” said Conservation Department Art Director Cliff White.

He said youthful readers will be able to read about how nature artists and photographers capture their stunning images, and then go to Xplor online for video lessons on drawing, painting and photography from the master artists and photographers. Likewise, they will get to spend time with people with wild jobs and share other Missouri kids’ real-life adventures illustrated in graphic-novel style.

Other regular Xplor print features will include a “YUCK!” department about things slimy, gooey, stinky and just plain gross, plus audio and video clips that bring magazine articles to life. The magazine will cover the full range of outdoor nature-related activities, from hunting and fishing to bird watching and hands-on conservation.

“We don’t want them to just read the magazine or hang out on the computer all day,” said Publications Coordinator Joan McKee. “We want Xplor to be the trigger that sends them running for the door so they can have their own adventures. The magazine will give them lots of ideas about things they can see and do outside. Then they can go to the Web site for more details about how to do them.”

The inaugural issue of Xplor will appear in February 2010. Subscriptions are free to Missouri residents. Nonresidents in the United States can subscribe for $5 a year. Those in other countries can buy one-year, six-issue subscriptions for $8. To sign up, visit www.explormo.org, or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3856 or 3249, or write to Xplor, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.  – By Jim Low

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