Conservation for Kids
We all want our children to grow up with a passion for preserving our rich natural resources and remarkable wild places for future generations. The best way to instill a life-long love for the natural world is to give a child real-life, hands-on experiences outdoors. Kids love to climb trees, pick flowers, and catch frogs!
Unfortunately today's eco trends are often characterized by a sterile, hands-off philosophy. According to many in green crowd, the less human involvement the better. Unfortunately that doesn't work for kids!
Nor does constant environmental alarmism. In his powerful little book BEYOND ECOPHOBIA, David Sobel details how well-intentioned, but misguided curriculum designed to introduce elementary students to acid rain, global warming, pollution and other environmental issues, actually causes children to feel hopeless and dis-empowered. Because the problems seem overwhelming to the students, they tend to disengage from nature altogether. Sobel goes on to point out that a young child must be given the “opportunity to bond with the natural world, to learn to love it and feel comfortable in it, before being asked to heal its wounds.”
Teddy Roosevelt, widely regarded as the father of conservation, was an avid naturalist as a child. The family housekeeper once complained about the snapping turtle young “Teedie” brought home and tethered to the washroom sink! Teddy Roosevelt went on to create the United States Forest Service, establish five National Parks, 18 National Monuments, and 51 Federal Bird Sanctuaries.
Here are some suggestions for helping your child develop a strong bond with the natural world:
- Get your child outdoors early and often.
- Allow unstructured play time outdoors.
- Make time for experiencing nature together with your child.
- Find places where your child can pick flowers, feed chipmunks, catch frogs, and collect rocks.
- Go easy on alarming environmental issues.
- Visit National Parks, Wildlife Refuges, and other notable preserves.
- Assist your child in building a collection of rocks, shells, or other items of interest.
- Teach your child outdoor skills such as tracking, recognizing bird calls, identifying rocks, and interpreting roadside geology.
- Read stories to your child about animals and their lives in the wild.
Children that learn to love nature and the outdoors when they are young are likely to be good stewards of the earth when they are older. And, who knows, your child may grow up to be the next Teddy Roosevelt!