These monthly challenges are your opportunity to cultivate your own acres. They are designed to challenge your creativity, test your will power, and pull your awareness to the footstep you are leaving behind.
By participating in these challenges and sharing them with others you are spreading the message. Over time, those around us will be making better choices as well. The goal is not to change how you live your life, but rather think about the implications of those choices and tweek them for the best outcome.
FEBRUARY CHALLENGE: GIVE A GIFT
This month's challenge holds a special place in my heart. It deals with the footstep we are leaving behind. One of the best jobs I ever had was teaching environmental science in the outdoors to 5th graders at the YMCA. I lived it, breathed it, and felt like I was making a huge impact, especially in regard to spreading the 4(for) green acres message. It goes without saying that children are the future of our environment. When we are too old to make a change, they will be leading us. It is vital to share the natural world with every child.
During my time at the YMCA, I taught kids about water and soil cycles, how to identify different plants and animals, and skills that taught them how to work together. Camp was their classroom outdoors. We didn't just tell them about erosion or food chains, we showed them.
There were experts that taught them not to be afraid of animals.
We helped them make connections between their world and the natural world, and how all of it still takes place in the city even though they may not see it all the time.
But, despite all the lessons I wanted them to learn back then, and all the lessons I learned myself, this story isn't about me. It's about the simple joy that these children receive from getting off the payment, onto a trail, and seeing something for the first time in their lives. An animal, a rock, an insect that they might not have the opportunity to see otherwise. A change in perspective. An actual representation of how they fit into the natural world and how great their impact can be, either positive or negative.
This is where the story of Ariana comes in. A fifth grader from a poor neighborhood near Ft. Worth. She had never left the city limits. I watched her come off the bus with her eyes darting in all directions. She was excited and nervous at the same time. She spotted a jack rabbit and her reaction was like winning the lottery. I took those things for granted. The deer, rabbits, and birds. Throughout the week, I developed a special bond with her. She was the first one in line for my classes, she asked insightful questions about how and why on the trails, and her smile never left her face.
What I learned about Ariana from her teachers was that she wasn't supposed to be there that week. Her family, like many families, was not able to afford the week trip to the outdoor school. This made her eligible for a YMCA scholarship, and that is the only way she was able to attend with her classmates. I later found out, this is how most of the students from her school attended that week.
I know for a fact, that we changed Ariana's life. We visited her classroom a few months after her visit and she told me about how she started to recycle, and encouraged her family to not waste so much food. Her teachers told us about a positive shift in her behavior. That is why I believe kids need to be outdoors.
This month's challenge is to send other students, like Ariana, to the outdoor school that cannot afford to go. I am volunteering for the Collin County Adventure Camp. I've walked the trails, met the teachers, and I whole hearted believe in what they teach. In fact, I may find myself out there again one day teaching more students. All kids, regardless if they have money, should be able to experience what is happening in the woods and on the prairies.
One hundred percent of our donations go towards scholarships. I've already given my gift. Will you help me this month and send other kids to spend some time in nature?
The Y makes it easy. You can donate on-line. Just be sure to fill in the correct info. See the pictures below.
Select COLLIN COUNTY ADVENTURE CAMP
Add my name, ABBY BULLOCK, on the volunteer field.
Please feel free to send me questions or if you'd rather donate through me via paypal. Please take a moment and read the quote below by Richard Louv. He says it more eloquently than I can. THANK YOU.