10. Are tomorrow's conservation leaders.
When children are given the chance to connect with nature at a young age, they are more likely to care about it as adults. Below is an article produced by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in regards to how connecting kids with nature will help develop the next generation of environmental and land stewards.
Direct Experience and Mentoring Are Key Elements
The focus of this recent research from Dr. Louise Chawla is on those factors that contribute to individuals choosing to take action to benefit the environment when they are adults. This is a reprise of earlier research by Dr. Chawla in the 1990s (Journal of Environmental Education, 1998, 1999). Positive, direct experience in the out-of-doors and being taken outdoors by someone close to the child-a parent, grand parent, or other trusted guardian-are the two most significant contributing factors. While lifelong activism is the primary focus of Dr. Chawla’s inquiry, as reported in this article, her well-documented study includes citations and explanations of many additional benefits to children from early experiences in the out-of-doors. Creativity, physical competence, social skills, environmental knowledge, confidence, and problem-solving ability are among those benefits to children’s development. Given the important role of adults in taking children into the out-of-doors, Dr. Chawla is specific about the attributes of the experiences those adult mentors provide. She states, the "adults gave attention to their surroundings in four ways-care for the land as a limited resource essential for family identity and well-being; a disapproval of destructive practices; simple pleasure at being out in nature; and a fascination with the details of other living things and elements of the earth and sky." Modeling those attributes while in the presence of the child does even more. As Dr. Chawla states, "The very fact that a parent or grandparent chose to take the child with them to a place where they themselves found fascination and pleasure, to share what engaged them there, suggests not only care for the natural world, but, equally, care for the child." (Original Research and Synthesis)
Chawla, Louise. "Learning to Love the Natural World Enough to Protect It," in Barn nr. 2 2006:57-58. © 2006 Norsk senter for barneforskning. Barn is a quarterly published by the Norwegian Centre for Child Research at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway. This article was written for a special issue in honor of the Norwegian child psychologist, Per Olav Tiller.