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Can Interpretive Spaces Rekindle the Bond Between Children and Nature? “American Amazon,” an Urban Nature Center for the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta Open Access

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Urgent action is needed to halt the destruction of natural ecosystems; however,American children increasingly grow up in urban environments, with little opportunity todevelop their love and empathy for the natural world. Modern cities and suburbs alsoseparate young people from the well-documented social, intellectual, and spiritualbenefits of playing in nature. Interpretive exhibition spaces can be a powerful tool forbuilding affinity and empathy for nature in children with limited access to wild spaces.This paper proposes a standalone exhibition in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, whichimmerses young families in the wilderness of southern Alabama’s Mobile-Tensaw RiverDelta. Combining strategies from science centers, botanical gardens, and children’smuseums, the exhibition will lead visitors through the diverse ecosystems of the Delta ina renovated “urban greenhouse” blending interior spaces with natural flora, fauna, andrunning water. Playful, open-ended exhibits will educate visitors on the ebb and flow ofDelta life while providing opportunities for self-led exploration, discovery, and relaxation.“American Amazon” will rekindle Alabama families’ connection to their local wilderness,build support for the conservation of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, and inspire young peopleto discover the richness of their local ecosystems.

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