Inspiring the next generation of conservationists

I’m including in this post a photo of my nephew, Jason. Jason is four years old, and lives back at home in Northern Ireland. So I don’t get to see him as much as I’d like to, but when I do go home, I spend a lot of time in the garden with him. There I show him the plants, tell him their names, and show him the wildlife to be found around the place.

He’s entirely fearless when it comes to insects and other bugs (I take credit for this, I’ve been putting woodlice and centipedes into his hands for years), and the last time I was home he found a dead bumblebee. Jason picked up it and spent a long time examining the bee, and it reminded me of the curiosity that drove me to pursue an education and job in nature conservation. To this day I’m still fascinated by all of nature, and can’t pass an interesting plant, insect, bird or rock without stopping to have a look and wonder about it. There’s so much to take in, I don’t know how anyone could ever be bored in life.

The purpose of this blog post is to ask people to remember to encourage the young ones to be curious and unafraid. Let them look at the world and ask questions. I still remember being taught about plants in my great uncle’s greenhouse when I was a child. Even now when I smell a tomato, it takes me right back to that greenhouse! That’s where I got my love of plants that has taken me to where I am today, and I hope that I’m enriching the life of my nephew in the same way.

So when a child next asks ‘What’s that bumblebee?’, help them find the answer. It’s a cliché to say that they’re the next generation, but there’s no way around that fact. If the children of today grow up to be responsible adults who care about bees and plants and other animals, then our wildlife can only be better off for it.

We have a whole range of resources for children on our ‘Bumble kids’ website. Click here to view it.

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