Conversations with Kids on Earth Day

White Rhino's at Lion Country Safari, An Endangered Species on an SSP and a worthy Earth Day Poster Child  

I’m starting to think that – like Christmas – Earth Day just isn’t Earth Day without kids to celebrate it with.  Which is why I happily sacrificed a few hours of studying to participate today. We did a wildflower walk, donated caterpillars to classrooms (zebra wings!), a trash pickup, and ate cupcakes made from organic ingredients.  And we were able to talk about green ideas.  Talking and asking kids questions is always my favorite part.  They need just a few leads and suddenly they’re running with crazy and often insightful out-of-the-box ideas and thinking.  

Me:  How can we keep wildlife safe in the state of Florida?

Kids:  “Don’t leave your fishing line at the dock!” “Don’t run them over!”  (Boy that is a good one.)  “Dont smoke cigarettes because birds eat the butts!”  (A+!)  “Don’t sprinkle your lawn with pepper!”  (Um, okay, we’ll go with that.)  “Dont feed baby gators because then they’ll eat baby ducks.”  (Alrighty then.)  “Don’t chase squirrels and don’t let your cat outside at night.”  (This was actually genius.. cats eat a lot of wildlife.)

Me:  All these b-e-a-uuuuutiful plants are native to Florida.  If you were born in Florida, you’re a native too.  The awesome thing about native plants is that they don’t need a lot of water.  Why should we worry about water in Florida?

Kids:  “Because we’re on a peninsula and there’s lots of saltwater.”  “Animals need water so we can’t use too much or they won’t have a place to live.”  (Beautiful answer.)  “There’s only so much water and we have droughts.” 

Me:  Alright, so if there are lots of people in Florida, and only so much freshwater, perhaps we should conserve it or find ways to use less of it.  Any ideas?

Kids:  “Take showers not baths.”  “Catch rain water in bottles in the yard and use that to brush your teeth with.”  (Ummmm.)  “Use water from the goldfish to water plants.”  “Use the waterless dog wash so you dont have to shower.”  (Hahahahaha.)  “Make more hurricanes come so we will have more rain.”  (Interesting.)  “Only drink soda!”  (Had to have a little explanatory chat on that one.)  “Wear your clothes more than once.”  (Sounds a little smelly.) 

Keep in mind these are third and fourth graders.  I was wildly impressed.  Rather like last year’s Earth Day when a third grader responded to “What does wild mean?” with: “Wild means everyone owns it, and no one does.”  I don’t know any adults who could’ve put it so elegantly!

And I love that their understanding goes beyond slogans and rudimentary use less / recycle / watch your trash.  Plus its hard not to love kids on field trips.  A chorus of “Thank you Miss Sarah” goes a long way.