The playground of the outdoors

By Jennifer Elsen, MAEE Board Member
Baby it’s cold outside! Fall is here and winter is on its way to Minnesota. So dress warm and get outside toBoys in leavesexperience the joys of nature and the changing of the season.

Like many of you in the EE profession, I grew up spending most of my childhood exploring the outdoors and our natural environment. The outdoor world was my playground. My family was the main influence in creating my love for nature. I grew up spending my summers in the north woods. I spent hours with my maternal grandmother picking wild berries, hiking through the forest, observing wildlife, and appreciating the beautiful land.

boys in rainOne of my favorite memories is when we’d walk quietly through the forest tracking animals by their footprint or scat, or when she would name a bird we heard calling from the treetops.

Childhood memories like these are what drive us to teach about; advocate for; and make the natural world part of our daily lives.

Today my focus is on working with early learners sharing my passion and building a love for nature in others. For if someone loves something they will cherish it. Children are our hope and future for this world. As Dr. Jane Goodall says to all her Roots and Shoots youth members, “I hope you will be inspired, as I was, to do all you can to make the world a better place for all living things.” I know that I am.

Since infancy, we have learned about the world through our senses. Being out in nature heightens those senses and stimulates us to the wonders of our natural surroundings. So don’t just get yourself outdoors, encourage others to get out with their friends and family members to explore natural areas just outside their doors this winter.

Have you ever heard the saying there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing? So, don’t forget to bundle up!

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