Eco-CANsciousness ... Even at your house

I am so inspired to see headlines like these in a recent Southampton Press:
Town Invests $9m, Preserves 150 Acres (Wetlands)
(Surfrider) Competition Fosters Team Spirit (and Eco-Consciousness)
Green Innovator Finds 'Gold' in (Recycling) Old Rugs
If it can happen on the East End of Long Island, where short term thinking has made developers rich and town politics less than transparent, Eco-CANsciousness may also be sprouting where you are.

Who cares?

I do, and I am on my way to caring more because as a parent, giving a child a connection to the outdoors is the best possible gift you can make to conservation of all natural things.

As a child sure I "cared" about the land, but mostly I just played outside. I breathed the sweet dew-kissed air in spring. Swam the surf in summer. I endured swimming and sailing lessons in murky, dark bay waters. I feared the jelly fish, the horseshoe crab, the deer tick. I was terrified of horses, and would put my initials on box turtles (in pink nail polish) as a way to track their visits to the yard.

My conservation record was less than ideal to say the least. Looking back, it was probably the total number of hours I spent outdoors in contact with nature that must have been the key to my eventually becoming Eco-CANscious.

Help your kids become Eco-CANscious by making it easy, and keeping it local:
  • Encourage, if not demand, lots of outdoor play.
  • Buy a bird feeder and position it near a kitchen window (where we seem to be all the time). Learn to spot a few common feeder birds in your region
  • Visit a local farm during different seasons (but especially to pick your own fruit).
  • Visit a farmer's market - even just to browse. Taste all samples offered, even the onions!
  • Visit and feed horses at city stables.
  • Go walking/hiking. (Best way to get started is to repeat a fairly simple hike a few times so that everyone feels like they've mastered it and they quiet down.)
  • Get to water - ocean, river, lake, pond, stream, puddle!
  • Grow something - anything, even grass in a pot.
  • Keep it real.
Some aspects of nature are truly scary, unpleasant, odorous, poisonous, even deadly, etc., and these feelings are what help us develop respect for the power of the outdoors.

You are the one who can teach your child how to interact with the incredible forces of nature while kindling his/her sensory skills, intuition, and imagination in the process. Go for it! And if you just can't, then go get him/her a mentor family.

No guilt - just make sure you get the child outdoors.

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