I am privileged to mentor a group of incredible high school seniors in a program in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico. This English language Socratic seminar-style program, called “Journey”, helps build critical thinking skills in the English language, prepares the students for their new university/college experience, and provides an environment where each student tries to define a pathway for his or her life. There are 20 students in this program.
In addition, I mentor a volunteer program in environmental education where 10 of my my Journey students use hands-on, place based strategies to help young people in the primary grades understand why everything in Nature is interconnected. This program, called the “Green Team”, uses a local estuary as the “classroom”.
This month, my Journey volunteers offer a month-long series of outdoor learning experiences in our outdoor classroom. They have been practicing their duties and are ready to start engaging their young students. Today, I sent them an email containing the text that I’ve copied to you below:
“This next week, you begin your very important work with some of the young people at Cervino. You have prepared for this work with excellence !!! Congratulations.
As you work with these young hearts and minds during the month of May, please read and remember Mary Oliver’s wonderful essay called “Teach The Children”. The essay asks you to offer BOTH facts and passion. Use your skills to bring excitement about Nature into their young lives. Invite them to experience a short walk in the water. Ask them to touch, taste, smell, and feel Nature’s energy in addition to simply giving them facts. Give them a sense of excitement, awe, and wonder about, Nature. Remind them that Nature is their home on earth.
Don’t forget, these young students are your legacy. Someday, they will have the responsibility of protecting our precious Mother Earth. It is you who will energize them.
I am VERY PROUD of all of you.
TEACH THE CHILDREN” by Mary Oliver “Selected Essays”
“Teach the children. We don’t matter so much, but the children do. Show them daisies and the pale hepatica. Teach them the taste of sassafras and wintergreen. The lives of the blue sailors, mallow, sunbursts, the moccasin flowers. And the frisky ones—inkberry, lamb’s-quarters, blueberries. And the aromatic ones—rosemary, oregano. Give them peppermint to put in their pockets as they go to school. Give them the fields and the woods and the possibility of the world salvaged from the lords of profit. Stand them in the stream, head them upstream, rejoice as they learn to love this green space they live in, its sticks and leaves and then the silent, beautiful blossoms. Attention is the beginning of devotion.”
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.