Children’s Connections to the Natural World — The Development of ‘Earth Stewards’


Today’s ecological crises and the fact that more and more children are cut-off from experiencing nature directly makes it imperative that we better understand how best to support caring connections between children and the natural world.  Those connections can lead to improving children’s health and well-being. They can also lead to children eventually becoming earth stewards.  I’m interested in the many programs around the country dedicated to connecting children to the natural world, and I am interested in describing their types and approaches as well as their special contributions. Connecting children to the natural world need not mean the same thing for every program.

My main interest is in understanding the process by which a child or teenager goes from being connected to the natural world to taking up the life purpose of caring for the natural world — by becoming an earth steward.   No doubt, there are different pathways to becoming an earth steward, and no doubt, the endpoints of these pathways differ from one another  with some focusing on climate change, others on sustainable agriculture, others on animal studies, still others on preserving wilderness — the list is long. But they all have in common the development of a passion for caring for the natural world, and they all indicate a keen awareness of our smallness and interdependence — an awareness absent when taking traditional anthropocentric perspectives on the natural world. I am, therefore, particularly interested in what fosters the shift from an anthropocentric to an eco-centric view of human’s relationship to the natural world.

Here is one example of my  writing about children’s connections to nature, a short article written for the Tufts Magazine — as well as an article indicating something about my own connections to the natural world. You can read them by clicking on the following links:

Call of the Wild:

The Climb: