Happy Earth Day! 40 Years and Counting – Guest Post by Jennifer Chambers of Hiking Along

Photo by Courtney, Northwood ‘10

Jennifer Chambers is the founder and leader of Hiking Along, a hiking and science program that “engages children in exploration of the natural world and encourages them to appreciate and learn about the environment and how humans impact it.” Jennifer leads groups of children, preschool to high school, on hikes of scenic trails around the Metro DC region and in hands-on science activities.  Read on for her recommendations on how we can likewise share a respect of the Earth with our own children.

It has been 40 years since U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson and Denis Hayes gave birth to the environmental movement, calling upon all Americans to take to the streets on April 22, 1970 to protest gas guzzling V8 engines, air polluted by power plants, and dumping pesticides, sewage, and sludge into water ways.  Twenty million people protested that day and since, our country has made vast improvements in air and water quality and bringing animals, such as the wolf and bald eagle, back from their endangered status.In 2010, the environmental movement is fighting a new battle against technology and our children’s increasing desire to engage with it. Technology, cell phones, computers, video games, and social media, draws our children in, even adults too, and competes for space in their minds over creativity and imagination. Environmentalists, educators, and doctors believe the advancement in technology and its usage has contributed to childhood obesity and their inactivity outside.

Photo by Kady, Northwood ‘10

Parents and educators know children love technology…so what if they used it to their benefit by partnering technology with the outdoors?  Digital cameras are a fun piece of technology with which kids love to play and a great tool for them to observe and engage with nature. This technological tool can open their eyes to the windows of nature in their backyards, behind their schools, and on the trails.  Through these open windows they may find clouds in the sky, the overhead tree canopy, the fuzz on a flower, the centipede crawling to escape an uncovered rock, or the sunset off the stream valley horizon.

The fun doesn’t end outside but begins again at the computer where they see nature from a new perspective, on the screen. There, children are able to appreciate their art and learn to refine it, allowing them once again to see the fine beauty nature provides.

Embrace technology and use it to engage children to develop a relationship with nature.  Through that relationship, children will care for and respect the environment and become future Earth Day revolutionaries!

Hiking Along is offering a Nature Photography hike for 8+ year olds on Friday, April 30, 2010 from 4:30 to 6:00 pm on the Northwest Branch Trail. Children may borrow a camera from Hiking Along to participate in the hike (download photos will be provided to each participant). To register for the hike, please e-mail Jennifer Chambers at jennifer@hikingalong.com.

For more hiking and nature resources, visit Hiking Along’s blog and Facebook page.

Comments

  1. wow – great post!

  2. What a wondeful [rpgram — we never knew it existed. My very scientific 11 year old cant wait.

  3. This is super cool.  I’m going to follow them on FB.  I hope they offer a weekend version, we can’t make the weekday one this time.  🙁

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