I grew up camping and hiking with my family. Thus it was only natural for us to camp and hike with our three children. I found that I love camping, hiking, and exploring with my kids. They see things differently and their enthusiasm for nature is contagious. As an added bonus, when they spend time outside playing freely in nature, they get exercise, they sleep well, their sense of curiosity improves, and they’re overall just happier. After watching the healing power nature has on my own children, I decided to begin my Masters in Environmental Education and Interpretation through UW Stevens Point. My goal for my masters is to create resources to assist both parents and educators in getting kids outside in nature (I’ve already been compiling a list of our favorite parks and trails in Wisconsin).
I began my first two classes this spring: Environmental Health and Ecological Lifestyles. Both classes have sent me down paths that I was not expecting. I’m reading books on everything from toxins in everyday household items (Slow Death by Rubber Duck) to pesticides in our food, as well as GMOs. Each book would bring new questions and would send me to the library for more books. My stack of books to read (based on my own curiosity) is growing exponentially and is beginning to become overwhelming.
As I sit here, I am staring at quite the pile of books and am not quite sure where to begin. In front of me are many winding paths–many intersect, and all seem equally important. Where do I begin? Detoxifying my home? Going back to my original focus of simply getting my kids outside as much as possible? Switching to a local and organic diet? How about simplifying our lives so we use less stuff? What do I do about my goal to supplement my kids’ education due to budget cuts and increased class sizes? To be honest, I can’t decide where to begin and have actually started reading about 10 books at once. Which is not very productive and hasn’t gotten me very far.
Thus, after much contemplation, I have decided to expand my initial goal of helping kids get outside. First, it’s hard to make time to get outside if life is too hectic and busy (thus my interest in simplicity parenting). Plus, what’s the benefit of enjoying fresh air outside if we’re ingesting produce that is full of pesticides and harmful chemicals? I have decided to give myself two years to read through the materials and pull out the most important nuggets of information–stuff I can use and share with those who don’t have the time (or interest) to read through all research and books. I do plan to apply what I’m learning on my own family, so I can share what worked and what did not work so well. I’m not entirely sure how I’ll pull this all together for my masters project yet, but I’m sure it’ll come to me. In the meanwhile, I created a sister site for my Masters work called “Winding Trails.” Let the journey begin!
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” –Edward Abbey