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United Nations World Environment Day

Today is the UN observation of World Environment Day. This year’s theme and focus is on forests.

According to website, the purpose of World Environment Day is to celebrate the achievements you have made in preserving or connecting others to environment. In this era of “BIG ISSUES”, where it seems that there are so many things that need to be tackled and so much of the effort feels as though it is a swim upstream against a raging current and through many dams, it is easy to forget what so many people are accomplishing every day.

Sierra Club, Audubon, National Wildlife Federation, Society for Conservation Biology, Jane Goodall, Texas Master Naturalists, Children and Nature Network, and most importantly as I was growing up, The Girl Scouts are all organizations that have influenced me and my journey in environmental education and outreach.

For me, Girl Scouting was foundational to the person I am now. The time I spent with the Girl Scouts in the out of doors in simple activities from hiking to swimming or singing around campfires instilled in me a love for place that will never leave me. Girl Scout camp was balanced between playing in nature, learning about camping and nature, learning about myself and others, and being still and resting in the place. These are some of the gifts that I want to bring to others through this blog and through the things I do with others. In addition, the Girl Scout ethic to always leave a place better than you found it became part of my core values. It is an ethic that continues to be taught to girls today and it is one of the reasons that I will always consider myself a Girl Scout.

Whatever and whomever got you started in loving nature and whatever and whomever keeps you going in your environmental work, take this day to celebrate their successes. And, while you’re at it, remember to celebrate your successes.

Happy World Environment Day.

A little activity to share from the book Sharing Nature With Children by Joseph Cornell.

Take a Micro-Hike:

Materials–> a piece of string 3 to 5 feet long and a park. (Magnifying glasses can be used but are optional)

  1. Have the children select the most interesting (to them) place in the park.
  2. The children place their strings on the ground stretched out to length of the string.
  3. Have the participants lay down on the ground on their bellies at one end of the string, heads no higher than 1 foot off of the ground.
  4. Children will “hike” along the string, inch by inch exploring what they see there.
  5. Prompt them with questions:
    1. What kind of world are you hiking through right now?
    2. Who are your nearest neighbors?
    3. What is that spider going to do, eat you or take you for a ride?
    4. What would it be like to be that metallic green beetle?
    5. Other questions as appropriate.

For children who are not used to being out of doors and who are uncomfortable getting down on the ground, adapt the activity to their comfort level, perhaps by having them explore the bark of a tree, or having them sit with their eyes closed and have them listen for the sounds of the park. Ask them to identify the direction the sound is coming from and guess what is making it.

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