The sun on your skin, the breeze on your face; spending time outdoors refreshes mind, body and soul. Unfortunately, according to a variety of reports, teens are spending less time outside than ever before. Two key barriers preventing youth from spending more time in nature are a lack of access and a lack of interest. Armed with this information, TROY School partnered with local environmental enthusiast, Jessica Burkett, to take our students hiking once a week and introduce them to the great outdoors! Research has repeatedly shown that time outdoors reduces stress levels, depression and anxiety, all obstacles students at TROY must overcome on a daily basis. Weekly two hour hikes were taken on the Morsches Park hiking trails and on the Blue River Trail. During the final week of summer school, TROY students accompanied Jessica on a lengthy hike at Chain O Lakes State Park where they also enjoyed some time to boat and swim. In addition to hiking, Jessica also introduced the students to Giving Gardens, a local community garden, where they learned how to identify and grow vegetables. The overall benefit to our students was so positive; we are planning to continue working with Jessica once a week throughout the school year to provide outdoor learning experiences to as many of our students as possible. It was such a wonderful summer, we hated to see it come to an end!