As a life-long eco, environmental, sustainable, nature, earth educator, I offer ways for humans and nature to meet. And, get acquainted, fall in love, or at least enjoy themselves immensely! This might seem so natural that you wonder why earth educators are needed. The key to Earth Education is that it is more than learning about nature—it's learning from nature and forming relationships with nature. Reasons for earth educators in today's world:
• Parents ask me what to do with their children in nature. They want their children to love nature as they do, but bored kids leave parents feeling lacking and at a loss.
• Students today equate nature with something they have to learn about. Because students are often taken to nature only to learn, they don't know how to just play in and enjoy!
• You loved nature growing up, but left that behind as an adult. Why?
• Seniors and people with disabilities/illness feel too lonely and isolated to enjoy nature. How can we share?
• People can't presently enjoy nature for it only reminds them of the losses of nature spurred by human hand. True grief for nature itself.
These are states in need of healing and/or change. How? This is the time to go toward nature, find gateways to be with and stay in nature. The relationship between people and nature, like all relationships, needs time and space, thoughts and feelings, jokes and laughter; and, yes, challenge, learning, sharing, and fair play. Some must grieve nature's losses in order to go on, a gentle touch to heal. It needs love.
The bond between people and nature happens in person. A direct experience of nature comes first—there are no substitutes. On all counts, one way to be in nature is with purpose-free fun and delight, through games, hikes, and experiences. Nature is an active partipant, not a backdrop, whether we realize it or not. The bees and breeze call to us constantly . . . why not follow?
Contact Me for more information for this kind of fun!
Peregrine Watch, Portland Audubon, OR: It's Saturday, 11 am, mid-May and my co-worker and I are glued to binocs. It's fledging time for two young peregrines that I've monitored for the state count since March. We are tense, more focused on the birds than the public today, after one fledgling disappeared into the Willamette R. Their parents will slice up anything that tries to harm them, but can't counteract the downdrafts off the Marquam Interstate Bridge, upon which they nest and jump from to fledge. Their natural nesting sites are on cliff face ledges, which have updrafts that help with first flight.
We teach the public about the peregrine falcon comeback after DDT was banned. City peregrines are especially healthy, with a steady supply of pigeons and a lesser chance of contact with ag pesticides. But, their city bridge nesting sites are dangerous. Now, the parents are searching and frantic. Miraculously, a kayaker appears and rescues the fledging on her paddle. We have a Wildlife Care vehicle on the way. “Yes, look up there—that fluffy thing is ready to take flight! Send it love and luck.” (The fledgling was re-released at the Bridge after coming out of hypothermia, and its parents hooked up with it immediately.)
Metro Eco-Blitz, Portland, OR: Already each participant wants to know what the insect is they’ve already found in the first minutes of walking through wild flowers here at Graham Oaks Park. Even in Peterson’s, insects are only identified to the “family,” level, given the 10,000 species in N. America, alone. Still, we soon get a positive ID of bumblebee Bombus melanopygus on a pale pink checkermallow, both natives, but call it “buzzy dark-orange butt,” as a personal, fun way to remember.
Ninety degrees or not, my Bee-Team wants to find as many species of pollinators and other insects as possible in our two allotted hours, then register our finds on iNaturalist. We’re part of Metro’s first Eco-Blitz, a national trend toward community science to establish continuous base-line species identification events, a shared effort between scientists, educators, and the public. Not to mention the fun, enthusiasm for nature, and friendly competition while tracking species.