About the Film

Nature Matters tells the story of ten teenaged digital natives who are at risk of graduating from high school less alive. Over the course of one summer, these youth find themselves at the crossroads of art and science as they hike local and regional trails, clean a polluted city creek, and travel 2,000 miles to spend a week in Yellowstone National Park. These resilient ambassadors discover their sense of place within interconnected ecosystems across the country. As a result, they become environmental stewards and advocates for the natural world.

Until this present digital generation, nature played a vital role in the shaping of America’s youth. In the documentary Nature Matters Richard Louv (Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life) and Mark Tercek (President & CEO, The Nature Conservancy) frame the unfolding national crisis of a drastic decline in time spent in the natural world. Louv and Tercek present current research on physical, emotional, and behavioral benefits for children and youth who experience unstructured time outside. Perhaps the answer to this national crisis can be heard in the voices of ten urban youth who become awakened and understand that nature truly matters.

ASC President Statement

Robert Bush


Being in the outdoors played a major part not only in my childhood but also throughout my young adult life. I guess you could say I grew up in a creek or a river—searching for crawfish or salamanders in the creek behind my family’s home, seeing the power of water shaping the creek bank, enjoying the beauty of a secluded section of rocks and water where I sat tossing pebbles for hours…then, as I grew into a young man, whitewater canoeing or rafting, backpacking, or rock climbing. I often say I was wet until I was 30.

Yes, I love museums and theater and music, but I also love the chill of a mountain stream, the roar of a rushing river, the smell of walking through the woods. I once took 15 at-risk teens on a 30-mile backpack trip through Joyce Kilmer forest. We all survived. We all learned many lessons. They learned they could survive in the outdoors—I learned I could let nature teach the lessons.

Nature Matters is a similar story of young people encountering a world they may have never known and coming back different in very good ways. If you don’t believe me, take Robert Frost’s advice and try taking “the road less traveled.”

ASC VP, Education Statement

Barbara Ann Temple

VP, Education

When spending time outdoors, I remember one of my favorite quotes by Henry David Thoreau: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Nature gives me a daily gift of inspiration, abundance, thought-provoking notions, and organic beauty. Too often, however, I notice others so distracted by the routines of life, I wonder if they lose sight of the beauty standing directly in front of them. Nature Matters is a living example of what happens when people create the intentional space of opportunity in the natural world. In this film, you will witness the transformative power found in the art of nature as young people’s lives are changed forever.

Go outside. Take intentional time to see nature in a new way. May this film prompt you to ask what you can do in your own life, neighborhood, and community that will ensure children and youth have opportunities to step outside into a world of wonder, breathe deeply, and learn that nature does matter.

About ASC

ASC works every day to ensure access to an excellent, relevant, and sustainable cultural community for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region. ASC plays three key roles in Cultural Education. As a Funder, ASC provides resources that allow schools to take advantage of the community’s cultural offerings. As a Programmer, ASC offers educational programs that provide opportunities for students to explore their creativity. As a Connector, ASC helps facilitate connections between local schools and the cultural community.

Nature Matters is the second documentary ASC Cultural Education has created. Spiral Bound was produced in 2014 and illustrates the importance of the arts to our nation’s continuing prosperity by highlighting the devastating consequences of defunding arts education in our schools. Both Spiral Bound and Nature Matters serve as advocacy tools for increasing access to critical resources in the lives of youth. These documentaries illuminate the importance of arts infusion and nature immersion, each of which are vital to the formation of confident, self-aware, imaginative adults.

About Studio 345

Studio 345, a program of ASC, is a free out-of-school creative youth development program that uses Digital Photography, Digital Media Arts, and Multimedia Design to educate and inspire students to stay in school, graduate, and pursue goals beyond high school. Providing unique experiences for high school students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Studio 345 fosters a sense of belonging and interconnectedness. Taught and mentored by professional working artists, students gain invaluable experiences enabling them to become creative risk-takers and craftsmen while growing emotionally, intellectually, and artistically.

The students featured in Nature Matters represent the Studio 345 Journeys Program. This summer program is designed to educate, engage, and empower high school youth through a variety of hands-on experiences. By providing youth the opportunity to explore their natural environment, they are better able to understand and appreciate the world around them. Through exposure to an interconnected network of natural resources, students learn about the importance of preserving our environment and are inspired to become advocates for environmental stewardship. The Studio 345 Journeys Program is a three-phase experience that includes local and state hikes and educational sessions, a weeklong trip to a National Park, and opportunities for the students to advocate for change within their communities.