Raising young conservationists is important. Exposing children to nature and teaching them about environmental conservation will yield adults who will have a lifelong respect for nature and wildlife.
Not only is spending time outdoors a great way to bond with your children, but spending time outdoors comes with health benefits. Being immersed in nature reduces stress, promotes physical activity, and fosters an overall sense of appreciation for the world around us.
If you’re looking for ideas on how to raise young conservationists, here are five simple ways to help children of any age be young stewards of their environment:
1. Start with simple green habits.
The earlier you start instilling green habits the better. Have young children help you sort recyclables and explain why it’s important to turn off the water when brushing their teeth or turn off the lights when they leave a room.
When you’re outdoors bring a bag to pick up any litter that you may see. Before you know it, these green habits will become second nature. Young conservationists will carry these habits with them into adulthood.
2. Plan a family hike or camping trip.
Instead of a lavish, resort-style family vacation, opt for an overnight camping trip instead. For day trips, go for a short walk in a nearby county, state or national park. Not only will you create lasting memories, but it will allow young conservationists the opportunity to get up close and personal with nature.
3. Explain how our actions have consequences.
Children learn better when you explain why or why not rather than just tell them to do something. Instead of just telling them not to litter, take the time to explain how harmful it is.
When they realize how harmful it is for trash to end up in ocean and how it can hurt animals, they’ll likely think twice before they litter. Since most children love animals they’ll be more likely to listen.
4. Lead by example.
Bottom line, your children look up to you whether you think they do or not. Your children will not only notice, but follow your lead; if you don’t litter, take time to recycle, and have an overall love and respect for the outdoors, your children will too.
5. Attend community events and educational opportunities.
Look for family-friendly events and programs in your area that give young conservationists the opportunity to get outdoors and/or learn about wildlife and the environment.
Check with your state’s Department of Natural Resources or your local parks/wildlife organization. National organizations like the National Wildlife Foundation and National Wild Turkey Federation have state chapters that often host local events.
Additionally, most schools find a way to acknowledge days like Earth Day or Arbor Day. Take advantage of these opportunities to spend more time with your child and volunteer.
Ultimately, the most important thing when it comes to raising young conservationists is helping children realize that the world is much bigger than themselves.
By exposing them to activities or events at an early age, they’ll have a better understanding of our responsibility as humans to protect our environment.