Sunday, November 30, 2008

Encouraging a New Generation

Photo by bill Ravenscroft

Birding is such a wonderful avenue to developing one’s sense of nature. It is an activity the leads many into a greater appreciation for the environment. It may even lead one to advocacy of good stewardship of the earth and influence the decisions made as one conducts their life. Thus birding serves as a gateway into an understanding of humans interplay with nature and the environment. It behooves us to encourage our youth in nature observation.

If your community has a green space or green corridor, take your children on a hike. The fresh air the beauty of the woods surrounding the trail will fill you and your children with a sense of adventure. It may lead to an appreciation of our ancestors as they trekked across the wilderness to establish roots where the family now lives.

One way to accomplish this goal would be to purposely plan vacations in which the family camps out. State and National Parks provide a way in which a family can drive up to a campsite with their gear and have an enjoyable time “in the woods”. If you are not sure that the family can endure a week or two living in such a way, then try a weekend campout at a nearby state or regional park.

And then there is birding. Birding is an activity that can begin in the backyard. Its beginning is as simple as putting up a feeder, filling it with black oil sunflowers, and then watching through the window. Of course, providing youth with a good pair of binoculars facilitates their identification of the birds they watch, but also allows for the observation of the fine detail of their feathers and the unique behaviors of particular birds. For children up to third grade a small yet good binocular would be the Audubon 7 x 18 Mini. For youth up to middle school one might consider the Vortex 8 x 42 Crossfire. High School youth would be well equipped with a Stokes 8 x 42 Talon or Vortex 8 x 42 Diamondback.

Our children are filled with wonder and blessed with curiosity. With a bit of effort on our part we can encourage our children to grow into adults caring for the very earth we ourselves hold dear. Now is the time to begin, if we have not previously done so. It is not too late nor too early. For what is good, it is always the right time.

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