Nature Journaling

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John Muir was fascinated with the every nuance and wonder of nature from an early age. His recordings of his love affair with nature have shaped the minds of millions of individuals. John Muir’s philosophies and deep commitment to the natural world helped shape our National Park Services through the Department of the Interior. John Muir enthusiastically encouraged that men take time into nature in order to truly connect with themselves.

Much study has been done to prove that the more a man spends time in nature, the more he becomes connected to nature in a meaningful way. Spending time in nature helps us realize how precious and special nature truly is. We question our personal practices and find ourselves to do more to conserve the natural world. We are more likely to be interested in sustainability and protecting the natural environment when we feel personally connected to the natural environment. Without our invested interest, our natural environments, the places that bring us wonder, awe, and refuge, are in danger. We retreat to nature to sustain our body, sustain our mind, and sustain our soul. We need to return the favor and make personal contributions toward creating sustainability for nature.

“It is difficult for a person to care deeply about anything that he or she hasn’t experienced or doesn’t know much about,” said Karen Matsumoto, a former naturalist for the NPS. “Recording observations and feelings in a field journal can be a powerful way…to get to…develop that sense of caring commitment.”

Decide on the purpose of your nature journal: You can use a journal to study something specific in nature that fascinates you like certain plants, trees, flowers, or animals. Travel is another great inspiration for a nature journal. You can create micro-journals to track the natural flora and fauna of your excursions. Nature journals can also be inspirational and poetic. Rather than make a more scientific log, use the nature surrounding you to inspire writing, drawing, or other forms of art.

Schedule regular time to get into nature and record: You might not want to be engaged in scientific or creative inquiry every time you get into nature- or, you might. Schedule a balance in observation. Nature journaling simultaneously forces you into the present and takes you out of it. You must be present with your surroundings to observe and record. While you are present with your recording process, you might not be present with your immediate experience.

Use your experience for education: Take your notes home and harness the power of the digital world to learn more from the natural world you were exploring. Research has found that experiential learning has a greater impact on an individual, creating deep knowledge, personal growth, and inspiration for taking action. Research more at home about where you have been, the history of the land, and the discoveries you made there.

Take action: Donate to a conservancy fund or to a local organization. Write to your senators, governors, and President to protect the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service. Join local groups that protect local wildlife and educate other people. Be a part of the solution.


Tree House Recovery is a men’s treatment program in Portland, Oregon, offering men the journey of finding freedom from addiction. Creating a sustainable recovery through sustainable change, our programs help men revolutionize their life through total transformation of mind, body, and spirit. Call us today for information: (503) 850-2474

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