Thanks to organizations like The Nature Conservancy, getting involved with environmental efforts is easier than ever, especially for young people. The organization, which has been around since 1951 and is one of the most effective environmental organizations in the world, continues to tackle environmental issues head-on, no matter how daunting they may seem. This fall, Stride K12 and The Nature Conservancy invite students in grades 9–12 to solve some of our planet’s most pressing challenges.
We’ve put together some additional tips to help you get the conversation about conservation started.
Start by getting your child interested in nature.
Kids know that the leaves change color during the autumn before falling to the ground. However, they might not know why that happens. When colder temperatures arrive, the leaves begin to break down their chlorophyl so that this important nutrient can be stored in the roots, and this change corresponds to a change in color. Then, trees discard their leaves during the fall once they don’t need them anymore to transform sunlight into nutrients that the tree can use. An easy experiment kids can do at home to see how the environment affects leaves is to put different types of leaves into the freezer and see which ones can withstand the cold without being damaged.
In addition to sparking your child’s interest in nature, this kind of engagement with the outdoors offers a number of different benefits, including a potential reduction in anxiety and the opportunity for hands-on learning. Engaging with nature in this way can also help strengthen kids’ relationship with the environment.
Use material that your child will relate and respond to.
When teaching kids about environmental issues, try to focus on data in terms that they understand. Avoiding exaggerations and integrating information from well-respected sources are key to ensuring that your child continues to learn.
The speeches by environmental activists can be a great place to start. Many activists speak from their own personal experiences and understanding a person’s story helps us to understanding the cause that they champion. More and more young people are getting involved in environmental causes, recognizing that they can create change—no matter their age.
Increasing youth involvement is another one of The Nature Conservancy’s goals. According to Kate Ireland, the Director of Youth Engagement, “Helping the next generation build relationships with nature is critical to ensure a more sustainable future.”
Focus on action items.
Taking action is a great way to feel empowered in the face of difficult challenges. Teaching your child about nature and the importance of protecting nature are wonderful first steps, but as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. You can get involved by volunteering for a regional cleanup or invasive species removal. You and your child can also voice your support for environmental efforts by contacting your local and national representatives.
It’s important not to underestimate the power of your child’s voice. When Mari Copeny, also known as “Little Miss Flint,” wrote to the then-president Barack Obama about the water crisis in her city, she was only eight years old. Her letter played an instrumental role in the crisis becoming part of the national conversation regarding access to clean water.
In a time in society when so many kids talk about being influencers, now is the time to encourage them to focus on how they can be influential within their own communities. By teaching your kids about the environment and the issues it faces, your family can become one of those small groups.
Stride K12 is committed to offering students new ways to challenge themselves! Stride Competitions and Contests encourage students to tap into their creativity, resourcefulness, and imagination. Stride Competitions aren’t just for students enrolled in Stride K12-powered schools—all school-aged students across the U.S. who meet eligibility guidelines can participate and submit. This year, one of our Stride competitions is the Innovation Challenge, where Stride and The Nature Conservancy invite high school students to submit their big ideas to solve some of our planet’s most pressing environmental issues.