By: Chrissie Wilson
There’s nothing I love seeing more than children connecting to nature. When one of our students uses a pair of binoculars and sees their first bird up close – American Robins are a reliable favorite – they lay a foundation of connection that builds a lifetime of appreciation. Our education team is fortunate to help build these connections regularly, after all that’s part of our job, but many children in Columbus aren’t so lucky. The National Recreation and Parks Association have found that children spend only an average of four to seven minutes outside performing unstructured play. A sedentary lifestyle spells a troubling trend for the future wellbeing of our communities and the future of conservation.
The shift toward an indoor lifestyle is clearly seen in the bodies and in the minds of youth today. Access to nature improves children’s resilience to stress, increases attention span, creativity, and problem solving. We’re going to need all of these skills in future generations if we hope to secure the safety of wild spaces and the animals that call them home. We are facing a planet wide crisis that should call all of us to actions. The Audubon reports that, “nearly half of the bird species seen in the United States will be seriously threatened by 2080.”
It won’t be my generation that decides the fate of birds and their habitats, we’ll set the stage, but the children growing up right now will make those final choices. 2018 is the Year of the Bird and with only three months left in this flagship year we’re striving to communicate the importance and value of nature to each and every child. They say old habits die hard but it’s even harder to make new ones. It is much harder to convince a grown up to care about the natural world unless they make a connection in their early formative years. As the Year of the Bird comes to a close, we’re passionate about these life lasting connections our students make. As we look forward into the future we hope these impressions create a “Life of the Bird” in each and every student.