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Teaching Black, Urban Kids to be Environmental Stewards

Ooooo Noooo!!! She’s sitting in the grass! Mommy, she’s sitting on the grass! She’s gonna get a bug on her! She’s gonna get in trouble!”

My youngest daughter was tattling on her older sister. Could it be that merely sitting on the grass is a punishable offense in my home?

Well, my kids don’t exactly get punished. But I find myself telling them not to sit in the grass, as I don’t want them bitten by ticks, or ants, or some other creepy, crawly creature.

And let’s just say, when it comes to having a fear of bugs, I act like a lunatic…and the apples don’t fall too far from the tree.

But I’m trying my best to teach my kids to be environmental stewards. And one of the best ways to do that is to teach them to love and appreciate nature. Then they truly understand why they are working so hard to protect the environment and it’s natural resources.

I am actually quite shocked at myself. I grew up in the country; running through the fields with my cousins on my grandparents’ land. We shucked corn, then ate the freshest and best fried corn that my late grandmother could make. We snapped green beans that were taken from the garden (none of that canned or frozen stuff.) We picked butter beans and took the beans out of the pods for dinner (I don’t think my kids have ever even seen a butter bean.) And we played outside barefooted. Yes no shoes…dirt in the toes..all of that.

How did this country girl from Smithfield, VA end up like this? I don’t know, but deep down inside, I still have it in me. And now I want my kids to have the freedom of just playing outside without constantly looking around for predators...I mean bugs.

I wanted to know what parents like me can do to encourage our children to become appreciative of the air, water and land…ok, bugs too.

Read more: Ronnie Tyler, Mom’s Clean Air Force

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