Magazine article American Forests

Raising Conservation-Minded Kids

Magazine article American Forests

Raising Conservation-Minded Kids

Article excerpt

WITH FORESTS BOTH IN THE U.S. and around the world under threat--and the health of the planet itself imperiled--raising environmentally literate and conservation-minded kids is more important than ever.

I recently received an email from the mother of a girl named Alexis Dilloway. Alexis helped create the Earth Lovers Club, a local group comprised of her and her friends that recruits others to share their love of nature and taking care of the planet. For her eighth birthday in January, Alexis had a forest-themed birthday party and asked her friends to make donations to American Forests in lieu of presents. She also donated $18 that she has been saving, including money she received from the tooth fairy for her two front teeth.

Alexis loves to be outside and says. "It makes me feel safe and good to be in nature." This love of the natural world and her desire to be a good steward of'the environment did not come by chance. It is a value instilled by her Parents.

"We've always kept an open dialogue with our children about why we do the things we do and what we can do to be even better about protecting our planet," Alexis' mom, Emily, tells me. "As a family that spends a lot of time out in nature, we have made it a priority to cure for the environments we love so much. I think that our honesty with Alexis about what could happen if we didn't take care of our planet has just really sunk into her heart. For as long as I can remember, she has always had a strong desire to defend our planet and the creatures that inhabit it."

Unfortunately, there are far too few kids like Alexis today and far too many things competing for their time. A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that kids now spend 53 hours; a week in front of some kind of screen. Even in 2000, a University of Michigan study found that children spent oily 30 minutes in unstructured play outside per week. It is difficult to value something that you don't experience.

Fortunately, there are countless ways parents can help nurture a love of nature and a sense of responsibility for the health and well-being of both forests and the planet. I recently asked a number of my colleagues here at American Forests for some easy ways that parents could enhance environmental literacy and instill a love of nature in kids.

Here are a few of their ideas:

* Simply and most importantly, spend time with your kids out in nature. …

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