Published September 2016 in Nanaimo Magazine & EyesOnBC Magazine
Exposing children to the wonders and glory of nature at an early age is critical for future support and action on environmental concerns, when children become adults. Educators and scientists agree: Allan Bloom said that "education is the movement from darkness to light". I recently heard David Suzuki lament that the environmental movement, so passionately embraced in the 1960's and 70's, had failed. Randy White, wrote that due to many real and imagined fears, our "society has become so estranged from its natural origins, it has failed to recognize our species' basic dependence on nature as a condition of growth and development.” His numerous well documented references show "the natural environment has positive effects on the well-being of adults (and children), including better psychological well-being, superior cognitive functioning, fewer physical ailments and speedier recovery from illness." If children are allowed time to play, explore and learn first-hand about the natural world, they will develop their love for it.
As Resident Artist and Nature Interpreter at Morrell Nature Sanctuary in Nanaimo, I agree with these concepts. It is human nature to care for and protect the things we love. Morrell Nature Sanctuary has many programs available year round to engage young people and adults in a variety of enjoyable learning opportunities. Schools are encouraged to arrange field trips on-site, to enhance learning and introduce students to forest hikes on easy trails. This is a chance to make that vital connection with various species of plants, trees, birds, bugs, ponds and stream life, and all things nature. You may also spot me painting the beautiful scenery outdoors! In Aristotle’s words, "educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all."