The experiences we have in nature as children shape our relationship with the environment. As a child, nature is both fascinating and terrifying, magical and mysterious, wild and wonderful. Do you remember first time you experienced the a powerful and beautiful flowing river?
I was lucky enough to have a father who taught me to both treasure and respect the natural world, to love it and care for it tenderly. He taught me to pick up trash everywhere I went. He empowered me with knowledge and the physical skills needed to care for the places we explored while enjoying the waves, rivers, open fields, mountain trails and towering giants we climbed to see the world from a different point of view.
My mother avidly supports the Haw River Assembly through annual donations and t-shirt sales at TB&C, showing my sister, me and the community the importance of giving back to the organizations that do great work. I often wonder had I not had two parents who shared their love of nature and the importance of being a steward of the earth, would I be the person I am today? Would I have chosen a career in the outdoor industry? Would I pick up trash when I take my dog Smokey on walks? Would I give my time, energy and resources to organizations like the Haw River Assembly that protect our beloved natural places.
I asked my sister recently what made her want to start a farm and dedicate her life to living off her land. Her answer surprised me as I was away at college during the her defining teenage years. She didn’t hesitate in her answer: The Learning Celebration that the Haw River Assembly hosts every fall. She went on to explain that in this three week program, Dedicated volunteers lead small groups of fourth graders through activities that explore the woods and river though hands-on experiences. Over the three week celebration, 1,000 local children experience the outdoors in the most visceral way, thanks to an incredible group of over 100 community members who share their love of the river and woods.
When my sister was sixteen, she volunteered for the Learning Celebration. She held children’s hands on wooded trails and showed them the importance of caring for the river. She passed down the wonder that my father instilled in her for the natural world to the next generation. For many of the children, it is the first time they have spent a day on trails in the woods. Do you remember yours?
Since it’s founding in 1990, more than 43,000 students and 2,500 volunteers have participated in The Learning Celebration. The ripple effect of all these lives on our natural world and the rising generations is beyond graphs and finite numbers. It is infinite. This is the type advocacy we at TB&C believe in, action oriented work that inspires people to change the trajectory of their lives or at the very least to take notice of their own impact on the natural world around them.
The 2017 Learning Celebration kicks off in just a few weeks, and we urge you to get involved. Whether you have time, money, or a skill to give - there are lots of ways to support the Haw River Assembly's work. The Haw River Assembly makes it easy for you to support. You can donate to their 2017 Crowdfunder to help them reach their goal of raising $5,000 to cover program expenses. You can sign up to volunteer. You can commit to taking the volunteers a meal at one of the three learning sites to experience the environment and meet the volunteers for yourself. You can share this with five people you love. Take some time today to support the Haw River Assembly's good work, or some other good cause that is close to your heart. Now more than ever, it is so important that we share and support the things that we are passionate about.
Comment below with your first experience in the woods or an experience that forever shaped your relationship with the natural world.