Conservation of our land has never been so important, but how do we get people to care?
Think back as far back as you can remember... When did your love of the outdoors begin? Who was there? A dad, a grandfather, a mom, an uncle, or maybe, an older brother? Do you see a pattern? There was always someone around.
If I were a betting man, I would be willing to place a wager that most of us were shown the wonders and beauty of nature by someone older than us, someone we looked up to, probably someone that you thought could literally hang the moon.
Connecting Kids to the Outdoors
The beginning of my love for the outdoors was no different. Early in my life, my dad took my brother and I dove and quail hunting. Also, during my early years, my granddad was equally important. He and I explored every inch of his 77 acres. Together, these influential men created not only a desire for a great hunt, but a love and respect for nature, animals and the excitement of discovering a new rock formation or a cool tree.
Many of you reading this are thinking, "Okay, but what's your point?"
Non-profits, environmental groups, and activists are constantly highlighting specific concerns for the preservation and respect of nature. Legislation is tossed around about how to effectively care about the land. However, I feel that they are looking at environmental issues all wrong. As with most problems or issues, no one cares about something until it affects them specifically. Therefore, we must make people care. How?
The connection must be made between a new generation of young people with fewer and fewer mentors available to guide them to the outdoors. Experiences and opportunities are just not there. Land for hunting is becoming scarce. Young people find their leadership in video games, rap stars, and iPhones.
If we want to teach people to care, we must show them what they are caring about. Instead of conservation groups spending millions paying lobbyists to encourage lawmakers to conserve land, go to the root of the problem: the people.
Teach people to care. The youth of this country are the answer, so teach them to care. Youth detention centers are full of young people who have never connected with mentors; they have never learned to care. Our society must plug them into the issues surrounding our watersheds and habitat loss. Make it real to them. If we began providing experiences in the wild for America's youth, change will happen.
We must all take on the responsibility of becoming those granddads, uncles, brothers and cousins that others did not have growing up. We must connect people of all ages, races, and demographics. If we do this, more people will care. However, if we stand idly by, and let generation after generation become more and more apathetic to the natural world, then we lose.
Take your kids hunting. Take them fishing. Take others kids, too.
It is not too late to get people outside, and if you need some more guidance in how to do it, check out Red Plaid Society. This is a new clothing and apparel brand I co-founded that encourages just that. We're working to donate a portion of our profits to organizations that get kids outdoors, and would love to connect with anyone who shares our mission of connecting people to their environment and getting them to care about it.
Go outside, enjoy nature, and be healthy. Red Plaid Society believes that experiencing the wild is the change.
What do you think?