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"Education and Nature": 2010 North American Region Educators' Conference
From April 17-18, 2010, the North American Regional Educators' Conference was held at the Chicago Center. The theme of the conference was "Education and Nature." Centers represented were: San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Albuquerque, Hawaii, Los Angeles, Detroit, Washington DC, and Atlanta.

The director of the North American region introduced the conference with a study session on Oshienushisama's 2010 New Year's message, saying that this message is for us to practice
throughout the year." All things in the universe have only one origin." We need to help people return to the origin and to understand the Creator God regardless of their religious faith. It is important to understand the truly existing God. In our daily life, we need to remember that each day is given to us by the Creator God. Nature is from the Creator God. In nature, we feel the vibration of the Creator God. Pointing out that the Chicago Sukyo Mahikari center is surrounded by greenery, he asked us
to remind ourselves to unite with the Creator God through nature and to be grateful to the Creator God.
"Let us deeply savor Heaven's gift of life." When we eat, taste, and drink, also when we go to bed, savor the blessings of God. Every morning we absorb the vibration of God. Offer a prayer with gratitude. We are allowed to live with the vibration of God; our life energy is coming from the Creator God. When we go to bed, we offer a prayer. This gratitude is the key to awaken to the joy of life.
Because we share Sukuinushisama's mission of yosuka, we are given special power from the Creator God. This is not to enrich our life but to help others. When you give to others, you will be filled with this power of the Creator God. Also in nature, we absorb the power of the Creator God.
You all have been given some talents so that you can be used by the Creator God as educators. You learn how to nurture youth. It is important to become a God-centered educator. One of the best actions we can do is to radiate Light; and by talking, communicating with youth you radiate God's Light. Children unknowingly receive the Light from you and absorb the Light and learn many teachings of gratitude and acceptance. It is important for children to learn gratitude and acceptance. Help children attain this nature of acceptance.
This year the Youth Teaching, entitled "Live in the Spirit of Service," emphasizes the importance of cultivating the desire to be of service to God and others, to give something to others in this 21st century. This is for all youth, not just members of Sukyo Mahikari. To do something for nature is also to cultivate service to God and others.
The assistant director of the San Francisco center spoke on "Sukuinushisama's Vision for Youth." He gave an overview of Sukuinushisama's goals for the youth group, which are to become an expert in society, a doshi, or a local staff member.
He said that the sunlight activity is a pivotal activity for the spiritual development of youth in each center. The goal is to nurture parents and children and to expose them for a number of years to the Light and teachings. The Five-Group system (staff, educators, parents, support staff, and the youth group) makes up the five pillars of youth education at the center, all working together to nurture the spiritual development of the future seed people.
The conference continued with a group discussion on: "What are the benefits of children having more contact with nature?" Some of the things that children learn in nature are: emotional well-being, spiritual sense of perspective, observation skills, cognitive abilities, creativity, healthy risk-taking, a balanced sense of humility, stress management, increased attention, and lowered depression, according to Richard Louv in Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Louv brings together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of both children and adults.
"Nature Connection Mentoring": We watched a webinar presentation by Jon Young, a naturalist, tracker, survivalist, and mentor in a Native American tradition. He was mentored starting at the age of ten by tracker and author Tom Broun, Jr. Part of the words of the presentation are:
We are excited to share stories and teachings that come from a long, long, lineage of connecting people to nature and connecting people to the people, and connecting people to themselves. Characteristics of a leader that are fostered by connecting with nature: a quiet mind, quickness of reflex, the ability to digest and synergize energy and thought quickly and come to quick conclusions, and more….
When we have enough of this nature connection foundation and we have a quiet mind, a happiness overtakes us, a joy that builds up from the inside…. You use your awareness skills to look around and see what needs to be done and you go take it upon yourself to look after it. You think about what needs to be done and you do it, because you see it in your awareness and you find a way to accomplish that without being asked. It is a kind of initiative that, of course, turns into leadership.
Monthly Ceremony: Conference participants joined the monthly ceremony for the Chicago center and loved it so much that we decided to come back next year and participate in the ceremony again as part of the Educators' Conference
Reports from the Centers: Centers gave an update of their progress in holding monthly sunlight activities and in forming Educators' Groups in each of the centers. The sunlight activities are held to nurture and grow the spiritual development of parents and children. The purpose of the Educators' Group is to focus on how we can practice the divine principles in our workplaces and to become people of Light. It is also a place to share experiences and give suggestions.
Innermost Attitude for Yoko Agriculture : The director of the Detroit center and coordinator of the Educators' Group read some excerpts from monthly teachings on "The Innermost Attitude for Yoko Farming." One example is from the June 1999 monthly teaching, which said: "The foundation of yoko farming is giving the Light of God with gratitude, doing farm work with an innermost attitude of gratitude, and using words filled with gratitude."
Summation: Our regional director concluded the conference by thanking the participants for all of our efforts. He said that from this conference, we can really see progress in all of the centers. He said, please don't give up if you don't see changes; results of your efforts may not show until five or ten years. There is a time for everything. Keep in good communication with your staff members to avoid confusion. We have 73 people scheduled to go to the Procession of Light in the autumn. When we return, let's start to nurture the group of youth who will go to the next Procession of Light ten years from now.

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