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September 4 is National Wildlife Day, a holiday that highlights our endangered species and works to educate the public about conservation. A main goal of the holiday is teaching kids about the topic, which makes this the perfect time to encourage the children in your life to get involved in conservation.
Roots & Shoots, the Jane Goodall Institute’s community and learning program encouraging youth leadership, offers a number of ways you can achieve this goal.
“Jane dedicated a lot of her life to this program to get the youth and students of the world involved in their communities to make the world a better place for animals and the environment,” says Bill Wallauer, a JGI research videographer and wildlife cameraman.
Read on for some suggestions for getting your kids interested in conservation.
Reach out to your children’s teachers about creating conservation activities in school. Wallauer recommends bringing up Roots & Shoots and its educator resources to teachers. Kids working together through various activities to try to make a difference can impart a spirit of conservation.
“Adopting the philosophy is part of the solution for getting involved,” he says.“Roots & Shoots has a great structure for getting a group of students together, whether groups of students all the same age in the classroom or after-school clubs that put young kids with older mentors.”
Wallauer has seen this effort lead to results in many of the over 130 countries in which Roots & Shoots has programs.
“It’s a great way to get students not just involved in nature and conservation and wildlife protection and animal protection, but offer the idea that you can’t [undertake] conservation without local people and getting involved,” he says.
Finding a mentor, whether it’s a teacher, local conservationist or researcher, is another option. Wallauer recommends that parents find people whose work will be viewed as fun by kids and will allow them to learn more about wildlife conservation. If the person is local, kids can see firsthand how their involvement makes an impact.
“A local problem they see they can do something about — unlike issues on the news that might make them feel helpless and they see getting worse — can instill that sense of empowerment that kids can make a difference,” he says.
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