A few years ago when my daughter started tagging along to my talks and programs about prairie-chickens and other grouse, I promised her I’d take her to see prairie-chickens when she turned 5. This year she turned 5.
On her birthday, we took her to one of my favorite prairie preserves. Excited, she got up by 4:30 a.m. without anybody waking her up and headed out to a photo blind in the prairie. Located miles away from any town, it was pitch-dark except millions of stars in the sky. She looked up and was amazed by the number of stars. She said, “Wow, it’s beautiful. (Stars are) too many to count.”
While waiting for prairie-chickens to show up, we watched the most beautiful sunrise together. I will never forget when she said in the most sincere way a 5-year-old could say, “Daddy, this is the most beautiful color of the sky I’ve ever seen!” And after waiting an hour or so in the cold blind, she finally got to see prairie-chickens’ dance. (And she got to see hundreds of bison, too.)
A research says that almost 80% of children in the US have never seen a sky dark enough to see starry night. As towns and cities continue to grow and get brighter, a natural darkness is becoming extremely rare. Some study suggests that by 2070 most of the US will be too bright to even observe a night sky.
According to BBC News (http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-32067158), kids ages from 5-16 spend 6 or more hours per day with LCD screen, which leaves little time to explore outdoors.
Twenty years from now what we will have is a generation of disconnection. And it will be too little too late for us to tell them why they need to protect our natural resources, wildlife, and habitats. And why should they? They’ve never “seen” them.
Kids are our future. We all need to invest more time in teaching them about nature and help them connect with nature. They can’t do that in a classroom or in front of TV. They have to experience nature and come to appreciate it in their own term. And the good way to do this is to start exposing them to nature at an early age. You will be surprised how natural kids are when they are out in the nature. Nature has a way to teach us to be a better person.
“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” – Aldo Leopold