NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS YOU CAN KEEP
Time for some environmental resolutions for the new year. As always, endless environmental issues are available for anyone who is interested. Below are five suggestions for this coming year. If you teach school, I encourage you to involve your students in fulfilling these resolutions. If you are the parent of school-age children, enlist their help. One of the most effective actions adults can take in support of our natural environment is to teach children the importance of environmental protection.
1. Provide some tangible support for environmental education at a local school. This first one is an obvious resolution for science teachers in any grade but is also appropriate for a schoolchild's parent. You can donate your time to a school ecology program. Taking children on outdoor field trips, even if it's just on the school site, is an area in which most of today's school programs fall short. Ask the science teacher what field trips are planned and if you can help by being a class chaperone. If you do not have time to invest in such an endeavor, offer to buy something for the school. Donating a natural history book or giving a subscription to a nature magazine would help contribute to environmental education.
2. Part of this next resolution is one that all children and most adults can easily accomplish as it involves using the Internet. Pick out a tree in your neighborhood and positively identify what species it is. You may have to ask for help, but someone will be able to tell you what the tree is. Then go to several unquestionably reputable websites and read about the species. Most sites sponsored by a university, museum or government agency would classify as "reputable," although others will also. Using the scientific name of a species in the search usually helps in pulling up sites that are trustworthy. Learning about the ecology, geographic distribution and close relatives of a target species will ensure that you appreciate it for the rest of your life.
3. Take a stroll in a natural habitat such as through local woods, around a lake or along a stream or river. Most state and some city parks are excellent places to find wildlife, especially during spring. Look carefully at the diversity of plants, including small flowers and mushrooms, and at animals, especially insects. Look under rocks and logs. You will become more appreciative of the exciting life all around you. This is an exercise that children should be encouraged to participate in.
4. A really simple resolution that can be a gratifying experience for anyone is to observe a wild animal's behavior for at least 10 minutes. Birdwatchers do this all the time, but not many people extend the practice to other types of animals. Squirrels eating or playing, insects visiting flowers and spiders building webs are three possibilities. You may want to wait for warm weather if you're observing the animal outdoors.
5. Finally, let other people know how you feel about an environmental issue by writing a letter. You can email your message to the editor of your local newspaper. If you take a logical position about a matter of local, regional or national concern, you may find that others compliment you on your views. You might even prompt other people to write letters in support or your position. Of course, you should be prepared to receive comments from people with opposing views. You could also send a letter to your congressional representatives. More of us need to be asking them what they are doing to champion environmental protection. Make your letter a short one and just ask that question. Clearly, this letter-writing resolution is one that you can pass on to children. They should be taught at an early age to advocate for the environment.
resolutions like these can make a positive impact on the environment.
And if you change the attitudes and habits of other people, eventually
that impact will be far reaching.
you have an environmental question or comment, email