Children are the secret weapons of green

Children are the secret weapons of green

This weekend, we were on a camping trip in West Virginia’s Dolly Sods Scenic Area. As you can gather from this website, Dolly Sods is a so-called "wilderness area" that’s actually been heavily impacted by humans over the years. It’s a beautiful place and an unusual environment for this part of the country, with its tundra-like ecosystems. 

One of the best things about the trip was seeing my old college friend James and his family. He and his wife Lisa have two kids, five-year-old Lucas and one-year-old Violet. They’re lovely to be around for many reasons, but the relevant point here is that James and Lisa have already made an environmentalist out of their son.

Lucas knows what a skink is, wants his parents to get an electric car, and can identify invasive weeds. We were hanging out and my husband pointed out a bumblebee gathering pollen from a flower. Lucas agreed with him that this was a wonderful sight. Then he talked about a little girl he knows who saw a bumblebee and stomped on it.

"Why would she do that?" my husband asked.

"I don’t know. And the thing that gets me is, she really likes honey."

I am sure that the reason this kid is a budding greenie is that his parents have been actively teaching him about the natural world, and the human place in it, since he was born. I bet they started by letting him splash around in creeks, as they did with Violet this weekend. They’ve continued by looking for opportunities big and small, as when they were at a bird banding station Saturday morning and a volunteer let Lucas release a veery.

I don’t have kids and am not especially well tuned into the local resources for parents who want to give their children a clue about the environment. I know some of you are, though. Want to chime in with your suggestions? What places, events, and people have helped your kids understand the issue?