Although they develop their own attitudes, perceptions and philosophies over time, most children reflect the views and priorities of their parents. For modern hunters and anglers, few things are as satisfying to see from their sons and daughters, as a blossoming love of wildlife and desire to protect it.
But although your children will likely follow in your footsteps to some degree without extraordinary efforts on your part, you can help nurture your child’s conservation-oriented instincts by embracing a number of techniques, strategies and practices.
Methods to Remember: Concrete Steps for Teaching Conservation to Kids
“IN THE END, WE WILL CONSERVE ONLY WHAT WE LOVE; WE WILL LOVE ONLY WHAT WE UNDERSTAND; AND WE WILL UNDERSTAND ONLY WHAT WE ARE TAUGHT.”
– Baba Dioum, Senegalese Conservationist 1968
This oft-used quote perfectly encapsulates the reasons why education is so important to conservation: It helps foster a love, and therefore a desire to protect, the natural world. Essentially, if you begin teaching your child about various parts of nature, their conservationist instincts will rise to the surface.
Fortunately, there are an endless number of activities in which you can engage with your kids to help teach them about nature. And most of them will be fun for both of you:
- Teach your children to identify various species. Children (and adults, for that matter) love to feel like experts, so teach your child to identify the local trees, the fish species you see at the local pond or the songbirds flittering around in your backyard.
- Maintain a life list. Life lists are usually books or, in the modern world, computer files, which tally all of the different species your child observes over the course of his or her life. They usually focus on a given category of nature, but you can include anything you like on the list. For example, life lists are commonly maintained by birding enthusiasts – each time they encounter a new species, they record the date and time, and perhaps include a photo. Over the years, your child will add more and more entries to the list.
- Play conservation- and nature-oriented games. Games are always a fun way to teach your child important lessons, especially if your children are between about 4 and 9 years of age. Games need not be elaborate – a simple scavenger hunt or game of I-spy conducted at a park or local forest is great fun and very educational. The World Wildlife Fund and Arkive both list several fun computer-based games on their website, and there are also plenty of trivia games that your child will love too. If your little one is interested in hunting, you may want to play the game Oh Dear! A game that teaches children about wildlife population fluctuations.
- Attend workshops, seminars and presentations together. On any given weekend, there is usually some type of nature- or conservation-oriented presentation being offered at a local nature center or park. Many sporting goods stores also host guest speakers who work in some type of outdoor field. These types of activities are usually very affordable (or free) and they’ll delight and educate your child.
- Consume different types of media relating to conservation. While most parents struggle to get their child away from the television and outside, it’s important that you don’t discount the educational value of books, television shows, documentaries and websites that focus on the natural world. Obviously, you’ll want to encourage a moderate, measured approach to these types of media, but they are helpful for fostering a love of conservation.
- Make plaster casts of the animal tracks you find with your child. This will not only help your child to learn to find and identify tracks, but it lets them take part of the experience home with them. Plaster casts are fairly easy to make, and your child will probably enjoy helping you with the prep work.
- Have your child help prepare dinner – especially when dinner includes fish or game that you’ve harvested. Often, young children fail to make the connection between the plants and animals in the real world, and the food that ends up on the dinner table. By allowing them to help wash vegetables and season filets, you can help them make the connection and understand the connection between the natural world and the dinner table. Of course, growing some of your own vegetables is also a great way to help drive home these lessons.
- Take your child hunting or fishing with you. There’s simply no better way to introduce your child to the great outdoors than by introducing them to some of the ways you enjoy interacting with wildlife. You’ll obviously need to keep safety in mind, tailor the outing to your child’s age and capabilities and follow your local laws and regulations, but you can usually find ways to involve your kids in your pastime. Even kids as young as 3 or 4 can have a blast fishing with a cane pole or helping mom or dad scout hunting grounds for scat, scrapes, sheds and tracks.
The Ancillary Benefits of Teaching Your Child to Be a Good Conservationist
Teaching your kids the virtues of conservation may be the primary goal, but you’ll both enjoy a wealth of other benefits while doing your part to conserve wildlife. Some of these advantages and joys will be simple and short-lived, but others are profound enough to last a lifetime.
- Teaching your child anything means that you get more time with him or her. Research shows that the more time you spend with your child, the less likely they are to be depressed during adolescence.
- Many conservation activities take place outside, and time spent in the natural world has myriad health benefits. Among other things, kids who engage in outdoor activities develop a positive opinion of nature, and they are more likely to develop good self-discipline.
- Other conservation activities take place inside, and give you something to do on a rainy day. This gives you a chance to redirect your children’s attention from the game console or television to an educational and fun activity.
- You may spark your child’s interest in a conservation-oriented profession. Some types of conservation work are classified as STEM careers, which are not only in high demand, but they are also typically stable careers that pay relatively well.
Get Out There and Put These Tips into Action
Remember, the most important step in teaching your child about the importance of conservation is to simply foster a love of the natural world. And the best way to do this is by sharing the things you love about nature and teaching them the things you already know.
Don’t worry about making mistakes – that’s part of the process. Just get out there and enjoy nature with your children; if they are anything like you, a love of nature will emerge in short order.
Written by Ben Team
Submitted Jon Sutten, Outdoorempire.com
The Full Original Article Can be Viewed Here