Recent FOWL Statement to OSMP Board Addressing Youth Nature Education
Updated: Feb 20, 2019
Dear OSMP Board Members,
YES to Open Space.
YES to Environmental Education.
YES to Wetlands.
YES to Wildlife.
YES to Birdlife.
YES to Conservation for Future Generations.
We want to thank you again for hearing the community and taking the proposed pier and boardwalk off the table at this time. It would be unacceptable to have these things reappear in later plans. We also still strongly object to a wading beach or other infrastructure at the peninsula. Such development would significantly disrupt and degrade the wildlife habitat.
This evening we would like to address a seeming sticking point in these discussions. At the January 15th community meeting and since there has been a false dichotomy put forth that to oppose man-made structures at Wonderland Lake equals opposing youth educational experiences in nature. I want to strongly counter that premise. Those who oppose man-made structures and want to preserve Wonderland Lake as a wildlife sanctuary also support youth educational experiences in nature. Just because we do not think it is necessary, safe or appropriate for children to wade and get muddy in Wonderland Lake, does not mean we do not support opportunities for youth to learn about and appreciate the natural world.
We would direct you to a national organization called Center for Outdoor Ethics which promotes Leave No Trace education with a focus on youth and teens. The PEAK program, Promoting Environmental Awareness in Kids, has published research showing that “participants who received the PEAK educational program reported positive attitude changes above and beyond study participants who did not receive the Peak program.” They provide resource guides detailing 101 ways to educate youth about nature appreciation. A few of the 7 principles of Leave No Trace with direct application to Wonderland Lake are: Leave what you find, and Respect Wildlife. The Leave No Trace approach to nature education for youth is a growing trend. Educating our kids about nature should include educating kids about human impacts on natural habitats.
There is a relevant difference between encouraging kids to be outdoors, play and get muddy, and providing nature educational experiences which teach preservation and conservation principles. There is also a relevant distinction between parks and recreation appropriate activities and open space appropriate activities.
Beginning on Christmas day 1900, an Audubon Society ornithologist proposed a new holiday tradition, “the Christmas bird census” that would count birds instead of hunt them. This is a tradition that has endured since then and spawned generations of birdwatchers. Those who would argue that kids need hands on experiences in nature may be mistakenly believing that by observing and respecting wildlife in their natural habitat kids learn less, or appreciate nature less, or are somehow short-changed. There are many ways to have hands on experiences in nature, and hands on a set of binoculars is certainly one special way to learn about nature.
We support OSMP’s mission to preserve and protect Wonderland Lake as a Wildlife Sanctuary.
YES to Open Space
YES to Environmental Education
YES to Wetlands
YES to Wildlife
YES to Birdlife
YES to Conservation for Future Generations