Definition: Environmental stewardship: The responsible use and protection of the natural environment through conservation and sustainable practices to enhance ecosystem resilience and human well-being.
RAISING EARTH STEWARDS
Teaching our youth to care about the earth is an essential lesson in many different capacities. From compassion, to awareness, to forward thinking, learning how to respect mother nature is an integral part of developing children who will be engaged in society and a part of sustaining humanity. Dealing with climate change will be on the forefront of every day for our future generations.
Listed below are engaging, rewarding, and fun ideas for all age groups to get involved in learning about how to protect and to conserve the resources of our environment. Every member of the family can join in as well, all working to become earth advocates.
1. Care for nature- begin the stewardship mindset at home. Start in your own backyard by planting trees, weeding out invasive plant species, and using only natural fertilizers for lawns and gardens.
2. Nature lovers- as a teacher or a parent, it is important to share your own love for nature. Your enthusiasm will spark the same in your little ones, encouraging them to stop and smell the roses so to speak, to look closer at life on the ground, in the soil. Share your knowledge of local trees and plants. Learn together. It’s all about cultivating respect for the natural world. Collecting samples of fallen leaves and flowers, seeds and acorns is also fun to bring home for art projects.
3. Upcycle– thankfully the online world offers a multitude of ideas on what to and how to make useful, fun, and artistic things with recyclables. Challenge your kids to take some tossed recycling and see what they can create from it. For bigger projects, you can create a “recycled sculpture” with them. This type of activity is the perfect opportunity to talk to them about reusing and repurposing as well as choosing sustainable options versus one-time use and disposal products.
4. Use an app- Download an app that will help teach your kids about environmental stewardship. For example, the Fill it Forward app promotes environmental stewardship through an interactive journey. Kids can follow along on the ‘footprint screen’ to see how they are making a positive impact on the environment, tracking their waste, emission saved, and how much ocean pollution they have prevented.
5. Watch a movie- if you’d like to connect kids to the emotional component involved with environmental stewardship, watching a movie together and then discussing it is an easy way to engage. A good choice is The Lorax which teaches important lessons about taking care of the environment. If you prefer a book format, Owl Moon is a sweet story that allows younger children to make an emotional connection to the natural world.
6. Volunteer project– each season choose one environmental volunteer project in your community. The satisfaction of working together as a family while making a difference feels great. Check out volunteermatch.org for local opportunities.
7. Kids in charge– give your kids the authority for one month to manage the responsibility of your home’s sustainable efforts. Ask them to be in charge of:
- Taking reusable bags to the store.
- Saving water.
- Turning out lights.
- Monitoring household recycling.
- Switching from disposable paper towels to cloth.
- Finding ways to reduce packing consumption, for example buying in bulk.
8. Compost- learning how everyday choices as well as your actions can make a difference in reducing emissions is vital. Composting food and yard waste is an immediate step that kids can take and see the results in front of their eyes.
9. Garden- actions that help recover or preserve an ecosystem is an important part of environmental stewardship. Take part in this aspect of teaching awareness by planting a garden or getting involved with a local community garden. Watch how an ecosystem evolves with minimal human influence. Plant seeds, grow food.
10. Write officials– The last important part of becoming a steward for the earth is taking civic action. Share your opinions and choices with your elected leaders and organizations that make policy decisions that impact your environment. Children can engage in research and take action on issues they care about personally. Nothing moves a politician and the public more than a child taking a stand.
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