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A New Spin on Earth Day

By Jeanine Silversmith

On Thursday, April 22, I plan to celebrate Earth Day a bit differently than I’ve done in the past.

Little girl having fun in parkAs an environmentalist and director of Rhode Island Families in Nature as well as a former classroom science teacher, environmental club advisor, environmental educator, and – let’s face it – hippie, I usually spend Earth Day proselytizing anyone and everyone about reducing, reusing, recycling, and just about anything else that will make a difference for the environment.

And when I say everyone, I do mean everyone. Even my very young children. As a parent, I go into teacher mode so often, especially when we’re outside. “Hey look, kids! Check out the lichen on this oak tree! Did you know lichen is actually algae and fungus living together? Isn’t that cool?! Did you also know that air pollution has a pretty negative effect on its growth? So we have to be sure not to pollute…”

Have I mentioned that my oldest is four?

Yes, I admit it – I want them to be science geeks (and tree huggers) like me. But as I’ve become an advocate of unstructured play time for children, I’ve learned that kids benefit so deeply from simply being outside. And children who experience and enjoy nature will naturally do more to conserve it – when they’re mature enough to understand environmental science and handle the social implications of environmental activism.

So, this April 22nd, I’m going to go outside with my family. Maybe we’ll look at stuff. Maybe we’ll run around. Maybe we’ll play a game. But I’m definitely going to tell the environmental educator in me to take a break, and I’m going to feel good about the fact that simply enjoying nature will have profound benefits for the environment. Not to mention my kids.

Some books to check out:

I Love Dirt! and Let’s Go Outside! by Jennifer Ward

Beyond Ecophobia by David Sobel

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv

Jeanine Silversmith is a self-described tree hugging, science and math geek whose love of nature, coupled with her absolute certainty that people, especially children, are happier, healthier, and wiser when they regularly spend time in nature, led her to establish Rhode Island Families in Nature. She loves to run, garden, bake, hike, and go camping, especially when accompanied by her husband, Ian, her four-year-old daughter, Sierra, and her two-year-old son, Devin. They live in Wakefield.

Photo Credit: iStock Photo

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