Fostering Environmental Stewardship in Younger Generations
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It’s a dismal scene. The playground, which was created to bring joy and entertainment to crowds of children, stands empty in the golden August evening. Determined layers of weeds have taken over the hiking trails. Remaining completely still, the water in the local lake appears to be entirely untouched. Once these arenas were outdoor paradises for young people. The great outdoors once echoed with sound of young people making memories and appreciating the immense beauty of nature. Times have changed.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that modern American children are spending less and less time outside. Young people in other countries are following this trend as well. As people spend more time in front of a screen and fewer hours outside, the connection to the environment diminishes. This is detrimental. Earth’s climate and ecosystems are not in great shape. Therefore, we must increase concern for wildlife and the planet’s many biospheres. Appreciating the importance of forests can be difficult when a child rarely sees one. Environmental stewardship should be thriving at a time like this.
I decided to revive a love of nature in the children of my community. In my town, budget cuts have diminished the scope of the recycling program. The school system definitely generates large amounts of waste. So we should be encourage environmentally-conscious behavior rather than scaling it back. The Wrigley Foundation gave me a generous grant. With its incredible support, I was able to purchase materials that would reverse the trend of environmental indifference. I worked with elementary schools because I want this enthusiasm for the environment to begin early. Purchasing educational materials, I was able to bring knowledge of the environment into every elementary school in my town. Hundreds of students have been, and will continue to be impacted.
Six recycling bins, multiple speeches, and over seventy books later, I am proud to say that I have made a difference in my community. I wanted young people to have exposure to a beautiful and fascinating world that lies beyond a computer screen or a cell phone. I wanted to make a difference. Because of the Wrigley Foundation, I was able to do just that. In fact, in the early days of this summer, I can already see more children getting back outside. It’s a wonderful scene.