Moms and kids are a powerful force. I became a mother in 2015 and right away issues I was most passionate about became causes I wanted to advocate for on behalf of my son, and other vulnerable little people. More than anything, I want clean air for my son to breathe, healthy soils to grow our food and fiber in, a livable climate for plants and animals, and clean, uncontaminated water to drink and grow crops. These are the most basic things, but they are not a guarantee in so many places.
I’m not without hope, though. So many kids I meet in my role at KidsGardening understand the importance they play in ensuring natural resources are sustained into the future. In my experience, teachers and parents are working hard to instill in young people an understanding of what it means to live within the planet’s limits.
And I am so proud that KidsGardening is a part of this solution. We enable educators to establish and sustain youth gardens as a tool to foster environmental stewardship. For over 35 years, we have seen firsthand that youth garden programs grow a generation of young people who understand how to live responsibly in local and global communities.
Each year, KidsGardening surveys our grant winners. We’ve learned that 91% of educators we serve notice gardening results in improved environmental attitudes in students. How do these attitudes hold up over time? A study by Lohr and Pearson-Mims out of Washington State University indicated that participation in gardening activities in childhood was closely linked to appreciation and respect for nature in adulthood.
And the other thing that brings me hope? Moms. I would argue that as caretakers and nurturers of children, no one is more powerful than a parent. Individually and collectively, moms have achieved amazing things. Recently I met Kelsey Wirth, of Mothers Out Front, a grassroots coalition of moms working to ensure a livable climate for all children. Kelsey explained that Mothers Out Front is, “led by our local teams of dedicated volunteers, who determine their community's needs and choose their own goals. We empower them with training, coaching, and ideas to move their communities and states from dirty to clean energy. Team members come together to learn, strategize, meet with elected and business leaders, testify at hearings, and plan and show up at rallies and other events.”
And of course, in many cases, parents are the primary educators for their children. We can lead by example and show our kids how critical it is to protect natural resources by advocating for the environment with groups like Mothers Out Front, choosing environmentally friendly products, switching to clean energy, recycling, composting, biking, carpooling, or taking public transportation to school and work.
And of course, one of the most important things you can do to raise a young environmental steward is to spend time in nature. Those positive associations children make with the natural world are what will propel them to be caretakers of it as adults. Want a fun and practical outdoor family activity? May we recommend gardening?
What can you do?
- Spend time outside every day. For ideas on how to do this, read: “There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids”
- Check out KidsGardening’s resources for gardening with kids
- Get involved with Mothers Out Front in your state
- Join Moms Clean Air Force
- Join a Children & Nature Network Community Network
- Talk about caring for the planet with your children in age appropriate ways. Read David Sobel’s “Beyond Ecophobia” to learn more about how to do this.
- Why Every School Should Plant a Pollinator Garden
- North Elementary School Garden Build
- Three Simple Ideas for Practicing Mindfulness in the Garden with Kids
- Poetry in the Garden
- Prickly Palace: Growing Cactus from Seed
- Kids Are Dreaming Big
- Dream Gardens
- There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather
- Essential Kitchen Tools to Enjoy Your Garden
- Starting Seeds with Kids