Growing up, I liked to think of myself as wild.
I spent most of my childhood as one kind of animal or another: a mountain lion moving silently through trees, keen eyes wide; a deer bounding through the forest over thorns and brambles; a field mouse darting out from secret hiding places to grab an acorn cap, a smooth stone.
I still can’t walk through the woods without spying small archways of honeysuckle or vines that I simply have to crawl under, even if it is a size I stopped being able to fit through long ago, and when a teacher recently suggested I come in and help her students pick out “animal names” for themselves to use during a future outing, my insides squealed an emphatic “YES!”
My ongoing passion for all things nature was created by a childhood spent looking under logs, feeling around in mud, and catching leaves as they swirled to the ground. This time spent immersed in nature–“dirt time,” as my family calls it–has given me a curiosity and an excitement that last to this day.
One of my goals in both my personal and professional life is to help others feel this connection to nature that I have been so lucky to have received from my parents growing up. With our teachers working hard to teach students all they need to know to prepare for tests, the following year, and life beyond, it can be extremely difficult to give kids the time to get to know nature the way we all should. I consider it my job to help students get a chance to make connections with the environment and also to help teachers find and take advantage of these opportunities as well.
While there might not be time in school to have kids simply sitting on a rock in the middle of the stream absorbing what flows around them (although I certainly recommend it as an extra-curricular activity!), any time spent under the open sky looking at birds, plants, or invertebrates is time well spent.
The more our children can experience the joys of nature now, the better able they will be to make decisions about it in their adult lives, and the better able to teach their own children and grandchildren about all the outside world has to offer.
So come along with me! Let’s see what we can do together to give a bit of Nature’s magic to the children of this world, and all generations to come.