My mother taught me not to do spring planting until the oak leaves were as big as a squirrel’s ear. (Unless you want to tempt the fates of frost, that is!) I was blessed to grow up on a farm and be taught the signals of seasonal change. Early immersion in the cycles of nature underpins the values held by many of us “greenies.”
Today, many children know that the rainforest is being destroyed. They can tell you that polar bears are being threatened by climate change. They may even be able to talk about their own carbon footprint. However, sadly, many may find it difficult to name five trees in their own neighborhood or point to definitive signs of spring in their own backyard.
Richard Louv and David Sobel use to the terms “Nature Deficit Disorder” and “Ecophobia,” to describe this growing disassociation with the living world. If you haven’t yet checked out their work…do so! I believe it is vital that we understand and begin to address children’s growing alienation from the living world. Children are, after all, the future stewards of this planet!
On that note, here is a fun way to open your child’s eyes to the signs of spring and help scientist track global climate change at the same time! Project Bud Burst collects information on the budding, leafing and flowering of native species and uses that information to track the signs and progression of spring. Select a plant or tree in your area (think backyard, bus stop or schoolyard) and observe the phenological stage that it is in and begin to watch it for the tell tale signs of spring.
There is a simple download to get started and you can turn in your reports online. This is the “good side” of technology: rewarding closer observation and deeper understanding of nature with a chance to be a citizen scientist!
[This post was written by Lee Welles.]