National Trails Day 2007
You may have missed it, but this Saturday was National Trails Day and people across the country were getting involved to raise awareness of trails as a great opportunity to learn something about the environment while having fun too One terrific example is from Columbia, Missouri where their National Trails Day Expo kicked off with the chance to participate in either a 10K bike ride or a 5K walk or run in the morning geared towards adults. But that was followed by the expo itself that gave kids of all ages the chance to learn and have fun with everything from live snakes and real bear skins to coloring sheets about nature that younger kids could easily enjoy. Indeed a number of environmental organizations set up tents with educational brochures and activities geared for kids; things like identifying "Missouri's superhero animals," identifying rodent bones found in owl pellets, and even learning to recognize trees based on their trunks and leaves. Simple activities to be sure to many of us, but a lot of fun for children and far more important to them than I think most adults even realize. With kids in general losing touch with nature even as our environmental problems mount, they still genuinely enjoy touching and seeing things like animals and flowers up close when given the opportunity to do so. As presenter Suzanne Wright put it, "I think just experiencing nature, digging holes in the dirt or catching bugs, does more for a child than we can even estimate." Parent Troy Gordon also pointed out "I think we sit children in front of the television too much and let that be the entertainment for them." Ultimately, Ms. Wright points out that "The more they know, the better stewards (of the environment) they will be as they grow up." And that's a sentiment I can wholeheartedly agree with.