We all have those memorable moments that change our lives. They stick with us and shape who we are. When I look back I can point to moments that led me to my career in environmental education and fostered my appreciation for the natural world. I distinctly remember the joy and wonder I felt on the hot summer nights my cousins and I would play on my Uncle’s farm. We would head out into the pasture behind the barn and play among the fireflies – trying to catch them in glass mason jars.
Another pivotal moment was at the end of my college career. As graduation loomed, I had to choose which direction to set off in the world. Two clear paths lay before, a position with Teach for America in Phoenix and a naturalist with Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center. Just like so many other young people seeking affirmation for their choices, I consulted with family and friends. However, whether I had acknowledged it or not – the outdoor classroom was calling to me. A few months later, I was moving into my new home in Finland, Minnesota.
This week is National Environmental Education Week. It’s a perfect time to reflect on our what influenced our personal connections to the natural world and how environmental education can positively impact others’ relationship. Research shows that our feelings and attitudes toward the environment are shaped from a young age. As an environmental educator, we pay special attention to those moments that connect people to the natural world. Fostering memorable moments in the student’s that we work with provides important opportunities to physical and emotional connection with the natural world. You can never tell what moment will be the spark for a lifelong connection.
This week, celebrate all the work that is being done throughout the country and across the world to create memorable moments for kids and adults and educate people for a more sustainable future. This year’s theme for EE Week is Greening STEM: Engineering a Sustainable World. For more information on EE Week and some great resources for connecting STEM with environmental education, check out http://eeweek.org/ee-week.