For Environmental Educators – Are You Only Preaching To The Choir?

Almost every time I begin preparing an essay for my blog site I ask myself two questions:

 

“Are you simply preaching to the choir?” OR “Does your writing effort make an impact somewhere?”. Google Analytics tells me that people are reading my material about 4,000 times every 30 days. And, I have over 11,000 followers on Twitter. But, do my words actually cause some sort of positive action or are people simply nodding in agreement as if I were a preacher delivering a sermon to my flock? The honest answer is that I do not really know.

 

Perhaps a better question that I must ask myself is where and how can I make an impact? This question drives a great passion and purpose in my life. Every year about this time, I look at my group of 20 very bright high school students who I will be sending off to college very soon. I admit to a certain sadness because I will miss them. But, my predominant emotion is in knowing that they are my legacy. From past experience, I know that some will act upon things that have happened to them in my classroom. I know this because some of them do visit me after they have entered college and are back home on a vacation break. Some actually work with me as I mentor a newer group of high school students.

 

So, despite the good readership numbers within my blog site that number in the thousands, I can actually identify my true legacy each year with 20 very bright young people who hold the future of their culture, their country, and their environment in their hands. If only 2 students in my class of 20 students were to influence 2 people with an idea each year for 20 years, over 1,000,000 people would be influenced. If I were to mentor students over a 5 year period, my legacy has the potential of reaching about 5,000,000 people. It is these kind of numbers that drive me to focus much of my energy on working with my young high school students. In part of my work, I train these young people to give environmental education classes to primary level students. It is my hope that, through this activity, my students will be building their own legacy.

 

Knowing that the numbers I’ve just presented define an impressive impact on people in the future, what kind of message do I wish to impart to my graduating students?? Far better than the bland “preaching to the choir” conservation rhetoric that we conservationists  tend to project in blogs, books, and webinars, my message to my students has the potential of altering the horribly destructive pathway that we humans are now following. Every year, as my students get ready to leave for college, my final message to them is:

 

“To My Dear Students:

In 2050, you will be about 50 years old. Your children will be 25 or 30 years old. Unless you, your family, and many other humans can influence the size of the human population and significantly modify humanity’s mistreatment of Nature, you will be living in dangerous times.

By 2050, the human population will be 9 billion people. To feed 9 billion people, every hectare of useable land in the world will be used to produce food. And, in order to more efficiently meet the food energy needs of this huge human population, the production of livestock for human consumption will need to be severely reduced or stopped all together.

Wars will break out over the control of land. The structure of societies will need to be altered. Survival strategies will replace the ethics that we grew up with.

How do we prepare ourselves to protect ourselves, our families, and generations to come?

The answer lies on your shoulders and no one else. You are the first generation of mature and wise adults who will face this terrible crisis. The decisions about the future of your earth and humanity rest with you.

The right decisions require wisdom, critical thinking skills, and a solid knowledge about how Nature operates. It doesn’t matter what career you choose, you and your children need to be armed with these skills in order to face the crisis that may happen around 2050. It has been my job to help you gain some wisdom, some critical thinking skills, some teaching experience, and some knowledge about Nature that will equip you.

I am 78 years old and may live another 10 years. You guys are my legacy. My passion is to pass on to you what I know with the hope that you will do something to alter or prevent the events of 2050 from taking place.”

 

Worth Your Extra Attention :

Thanks for reading this essay.

There is a section in my blog entitled “Musings”. You can reach it by clicking on the menu tab near the top of my blog site. This area contains my growing list of posts that list web material that I have found interesting. You might stop by an take a look.

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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.

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