"We humans have to have nature and green space for mental, emotional and physical health, yet we've gotten so disconnected with nature that we are now afraid of it," Drennen says. "I have kids who ask me if there are alligators in the Big Arkansas River. That's Nature Deficit Disorder. The Arkansas River Coalition is trying to get people out on the river to enjoy this wonderful amenity."
The Arkansas River Coalition has tried to spread its message about eliminating point-source pollution and Nature Deficit Disorder, but for some reason, it just hasn't caught on so well, says Tom Kneil, a member of ARC.
"I have the sense that ARC has not done well in getting our message out and as a result we're pretty invisible as are the various other environmental groups," Kneil says. "However, it seems that our brochures get picked up, they just don't translate into membership and we have little to no outreach advertising in states other than Kansas."
On the other hand, the organization's membership, which has gone from about 10 members to a little under 200 in 10 years, is doing fairly well, says DeEtte Huffman, the group's founder.
"Not everyone is interested in saving a river, so we reach a selective group of people," Huffman says. "The main reason may be our lack of a really forceful and expensive membership drive. Our main goal is not to be a paddling club, but an organization to protect and advance the Arkansas and its tributaries and this is just plain work."
So what can be done to reduce NDD and increase awareness about the river, and the environment, in general?
Keep working, all three river enthusiasts agree, at getting the point out there, through Wichita River Fest events, float trips and public service messages.
"We're trying to preserve the health of the river, so that when people do go out and enjoy nature, they don't have to worry that they'll get sick," Drennen says. "We're trying to teach people how to be safe in nature."