Sustainability Education

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts” — Rachel Carson

On occasion, I’ve expressed my anger over humanity’s lack of a consciousness toward Nature and our precious natural resources. Four of my readers have privately taken me to task for my negative comments. In truth, they were right because I was not offering solutions, I was simply complaining.

Indeed, recent history accurately portrays an ongoing and angry battle between environmentalists and those who feel they can dominate Nature. No one is winning even though the key issue is ultimately the survival of humanity in a gradually deteriorating environment that is partly the result of human insensitivity.  

As noted in a previous post, nature photographer, Rafael Rojas , states that we are the first generation of human beings that are totally detached from the natural world. He says :

“for millions of years we have lived as another species grounded to our natural environment. But now, cities have become the new ecosystem for us, an artificially created one where, instead of experiences so basic to our natural history, we now fill ourselves with  money, career, success, commercial malls and technology. Our urban world and its goodies keep us busy, and alienated in most cases. It has become impossible for us to remember what happened to the natural world that our ancestors enjoyed.”

I believe that Rojas accurately states the problem – a lack of Nature consciousness within much of the human race. The result is a deteriorating environment. I have come to believe that the restoration of a Nature consciousness necessary for a healthy environment cannot be resolved through the tension of conflicting views. This has been the mistake of many well-meaning environmental groups.

So, how does one restore a consciousness for Nature in human beings? Most certainly, the adults are not listening because they are too busy with their goodies. Many people and groups are now coming to realize that the secret lies in our children and in our youth. Young people respond and learn through awe and wonder.

Richard Louv of Children and Nature Network says:

“I will never forget the time I sprawled in the grass, turned over a rock, discovered the bugs crawling underneath…and realized that I was part of a bigger world. ”

Young people are not yet culturally conditioned to a way of life where humanity dominates Nature. They are open to new ideas and new world views.  The idea of protecting our Earth by building a Nature consciousness within our next generation is gaining momentum. Of many groups with growing sustainability education ideas, I note four who direct their programs to our young people:

Nature Conservancy LEAF program

Children and Nature Network 

Dr. Scott Sampson

Arkive Education

As for me, I am an educator in Mexico doing special programs with talented Mexican youth. With the premise that young people listen to young people, my group of 15 teens are creating and teaching a hands-on environmental consciousness program that will be offered by them to all of the schools in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico. This month we are starting with fourth grade children because they are very responsive to ideas that are presented with awe and wonder. Our basic theme is that everything in Nature is connected. In the Guaymas area, we are fortunate to have a beautiful estuary with much wildlife and plants. The theme of connections in Nature will be presented at the estuary where everyone can see, touch, smell and listen to real connections in Nature. In this setting, we are emphasizing the importance of these connections.

There are many teachers, environmental specialists, and devout Nature lovers among my group of readers. I strongly encourage you to comment with your ideas that may help us develop, grow, and sustain this effort. It would bring me great joy to know that this new program is being developed with the help of my readers. And, you will know that you are part of an important team that helps build a new consciousness for Nature within young people.

My name is Bill Graham. As a Marine Biologist who has worked in the US and Mexico for 30 years, I am a student of Nature, a teacher, a researcher, and a nature photographer. Through my work, I have acquired an ever growing passion for how everything in Nature is connected. Today, I travel extensively contemplating about, writing about, and photographing Nature’s connections. I also work with conservation projects in the USA and Mexico and mentor talented youth.

15 Responses to “Sustainability Education”

  1. Ellen Conyers says:

    Ah Bill…you are a wonder and blessing to Mother Earth. At times I think “what if I was god to a whole ant colony. HOW would I communicate to them. Tell them there is plenty for
    everyone…don’t worry about having to hoard your supplies.
    Be careful, don’t bite your neighbor How could I in all my strength and intelligence find a way to make them understand.?”

    And how does The All That Is get us little squirts to wake up
    and to realize the importance of caring for our tomorrows, meaning our children so we can hope for survival and a better
    future for our planet and beyond. A desperate longing and need to wake everyone and to see all the Beauty of Now!

    As Thanksgiving is almost here I deeply THANK YOU for all
    your work, effort and caring! You are one of the blessings
    I remember often and my prayers are with you and for those who world you touch!

    Keep doing your best and enjoy the journey!

    • Thanks Ellen for the kind words of encouragement. It is from my “cheering section” of friends and colleagues that I have received most of my energy to build this blog site, do my photography, and to develop the new program in sustainability education.

      • Macario recibe sdloaus, acepto el reto de convertirme y convertir a mis alumnos de bachillerato en genios mateme1ticos, ased que espero tu propuesta para ponerla en pre1ctica, porque es una realidad que nuestros chicos no saben las operaciones be1sicas y no te vayas hasta 3 cifras, las simples tablas de multiplicar no las saben.Espero tu respuesta. Gracias

  2. http://biomimicry.net/educating/

    http://biomimicry.net/featured/2012/tap-natures-genius-to-solve-a-critical-water-management-issue/

    I’d be curious to learn about your educational activities (if any) in Germany, France.

    Best regards,

    GM

    • Thank you for your comment. My home is in Mexico and I never travel to Europe. Our program is just getting started. Your comment has prompted me to think about putting our lesson plans up on the Internet once we have some experience. Thank you for the inspiration

  3. Annette Felix says:

    As you probably already know, CEDO in the Northern Gulf is also working with school age children for exactly the same reasons you have mentioned. They are the future and developing a love of nature and their surroundings now will hopefully follow them throughout their lifetime for the betterment of our environment.

    I am wondering if your students would be interested in sharing their knowledge and expertise with interested adult groups in San Carlos that use the estuary. Maybe hearing from young local stakeholders will have a greater impact than hearing from irate non-local users (i.e., me!)

    • Thanks for the information and the idea. I did not know that CEDO had such a program. I’d like to know more detail. Since my students are all fluent in English, a workshop with Anglo adults in our community is a great idea. I will contact you directly.

  4. Elisa del Carmen Cedillo says:

    Te felicito Bill, por tu gran labor que realizas con los jovenes y el proyecto que iniciaste para concientizarlos y hacerlos comprender la conexion que tienen con la naturaleza.
    Pero sobre todo vivir la experiencia practica.Yo cuando era mas joven descubri que los olores son mensajes que transporta el aire,y tambien que las semillas de algunos arboles y plantas poseen alas o pelusillas que viajan con ayuda del aire lasrgas distancias y de este modo sin que nadie las siembre nacen otros arboles y flores que mantienen hermoso los campos y los bosques. Para mi como maestra es muy importante que los alumnos aprendan a tener conciencia de las leyes perfectas que tiene la naturaleza , gracias a las cuales la actividad de cada ser vivo contribuye a que haya un equilibrio natural.

    • Muchas gracias por los amables comentarios. Tú eres mi primer participante de habla española. Los invito a seguir participando en el diálogo. Aprecio que refuerza la idea de que las experiencias infantiles son una parte importante de growning y el desarrollo de una conciencia en la naturaleza.

      Thank you very much for the kind comments. You are my first Spanish speaking participant. I invite you to continue participating in the dialog. I appreciate you reinforcing the idea that childhood experiences are an important part of growning up and developing a consciousness in nature.

  5. Elisa del Carmen Cedillo says:

    Originally Posted By Elisa del Carmen CedilloTe felicito Bill, por tu gran labor que realizas con los jovenes y el proyecto que iniciaste para concientizarlos y hacerlos comprender la conexion que tienen con la naturaleza.
    Pero sobre todo vivir la experiencia practica.Yo cuando era mas joven descubri que los olores son mensajes que transporta el aire,y tambien que las semillas de algunos arboles y plantas poseen alas o pelusillas que viajan con ayuda del aire lasrgas distancias y de este modo sin que nadie las siembre nacen otros arboles y flores que mantienen hermoso los campos y los bosques. Para mi como maestra es muy importante que los alumnos aprendan a tener conciencia de las leyes perfectas que tiene la naturaleza , gracias a las cuales la actividad de cada ser vivo contribuye a que haya un equilibrio natural.

  6. I love these posts. Hopefully, as Annette Felix reminds us, there are many committed people working to make us aware, to help us save the earth. If only we were all coordinated! Maybe someone’s spiritual gift is to do just that; if so, I wish they’d step forward.

    And I agree that much of the work needs to be done in cities, where the day-to-day impact of nature isn’t so obvious.

    I think the right-wing rhetoric and fuzzy science in the recent presidential election is an abberration we will only look at with pity in decades to come – as we have looked at the wasteful excesses of the past, like the killing of the buffalo. And I’ll get off my soapbox.

    Blessings on the dialogue you have created, Bill!
    Gwen

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