I Believe That Children Are Our Future

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way

~ Lyrics by Michael Messner and Linda Creed
~Performed by Whitney Houston

On this sad day when you cannot turn on any radio or tv station and not hear a song by Whitney Houston, the song of hers that sticks in my mind begins “I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.”

There’s an old adage that says “We cannot protect what we do not love.” My goal is to teach others to love wildlife so that they will work to protect it. Since children are our best hope for sending this love of nature into the future, I especially love to spend time with the children in my neighborhood, teaching them about the nature in my wildlife garden.

I have one five year old neighbor who cries every fall when she sees those paper bags full of leaves lined up along the sidewalk because she knows that butterfly larva, salamanders, spiders, and many other kinds of wildlife make their homes in those leaves. So she helps me go around and collect those bags of leaves and we spread them out in our gardens and around the abandoned property on our block.

Many of the members of our team share their love of nature with the kids in their lives.

Loret T. Setters collects bugs and other critters to show off to kids in her nature talks.

Ruth Parnall designs outdoor playspaces for children that become laboratories for studying nature.

Mike Bezner has created his wildlife garden so that his kids can learn about nature and the wildlife who come to share his space with them.

Kathy Green plays tracking games with her kids, teaching them to identify tracks in the snow.

One of the best gifts you can give to the children in your life is your time. When you invite them into your wildlife garden to teach them about the wonders of nature, you are helping to create the next generation of conservationists and environmentalists.

What are you doing to share your love of nature and wildlife with the kids in your life?

Carole Sevilla Brown lives in Philadelphia, PA, and she travels the country speaking about Ecosystem Gardening for Wildlife. Check out her new free online course Ecosystem Gardening Essentials, 15 free lessons delivered to your inbox every week.

© 2012, Carole Sevilla Brown. All rights reserved. This article is the property of Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens. We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.

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  1. says

    Love this. I agree fully. Pre-kids I was a science teacher and that was (is) my philosophy. And now my five year old could be your neighbor – she is a bug fanatic. So I’m filling her world with bug books and nature guides. And working on the total native yard. Getting there …
    Bethesda Locavore recently posted..Green and Neurotic

    • says

      Bethesda Locavore, my little nature loving friend will sit and read the Golden Guides like they’re story books. Her favorite right now is Snakes because she’s just tickled by the two-headed snake pictured in those pages. Your little five year old sounds like a perfect playmate for my neighbor! That native yard you’re working on will provide many endless hours of sheer joy. Kudos to you for creating welcoming habitat for wildlife :)
      Carole Sevilla Brown recently posted..Occupy Scotts

  2. says

    Being a Master Gardener, there are endless opportunities to work with kids. The only limit is time. We’re fortunate to have several good nature centers in our area. I have four grandchildren whose moms were raised with a deep, abiding love of nature. Just today, while helping my oldest with her newborn twins and toddler, the toddler and I got a chance to ‘sneak’ outside into her yard, which is a wooded acre with lots of native plants, wildlife, and even five chickens. She loves to be outside, and today’s foray into the chill and snow prevented an imminent meltdown. She played with sticks, ate some snow, and brought an oak leaf with her when we went back in. She played with that darned leaf for at least a 1/2 hour, making ‘soup’ with it in the new little pots and pans set she received at her 2nd birthday party yesterday. She can say (and recognize) “caterpillars” better than any just-turned-two-year-old I know! :)
    Linda recently posted..One Seed Chicago Battle of the Herbs

  3. says

    Linda, how wonderful that you are close enough to spend such quality time with your grandchildren! Your oldest sounds like she has quite a handful with newborn twins plus a toddler. I’m sure she appreciates your spending time playing with sticks, eating snow, finding oak leaves (and helping to avoid those meltdowns) with her. What a wonderful gift you’re giving to her :)
    Carole Sevilla Brown recently posted..Reader Appreciation: Genevieve Schmidt

  4. Ruth Parnall says

    Carole – Your phrase “…teach others to love wildlife so that they will work to protect it” is exactly my motivation as well.


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