A positive mental attitude can make a huge difference. When I interned in Utah, we routinely shouted “P.M.A all day, every day,” saying this reminded us to be cheerful (even when we didn’t want to be). This can be hard during inclement weather, especially the cold and rainy days. Kids however have a gift: the overabundance of PMA. We were able to see this first hand. This past Thursday we spent the day with local fourth graders.
For the past few years the 4th graders from Siuslaw elementary have participated in a dunes restoration project. Each year they come out to the Oregon Dunes Recreation Area to pull scotch broom and plant native grasses. They have made a huge difference, not only in halting the progression of this invasive species, but in protecting and enhancing the beauty of the Oregon dunes.
What I found most remarkable was their limitless PMA, no matter the task, these kids met it at full speed. They ran down the dunes, up the dunes, along the dunes…they just ran! But besides their enthusiasm for running, they expressed so much interest in the dunes themselves, the deer tracks, and the critters in the temporary ponds.
Paul, a conservation scientist with the Audubon Society with whom we spent Sunday morning, reminded me of the importance of youth in conservation. He told us that nothing is scarier for “large polluters” than youth who care. He has worked for over 25 years in the state of Oregon conserving old growth forests, practically saving several species and habitat types, but his favorite work is with the children. He is proudest of the work he does with the youth, because they drive social change.
Spending time with the Siuslaw students and with Paul solidified my views on the importance of outreach. Although sometimes hectic, working with the kids has made me hopeful. If, even only one child becomes inspired to become a conservationist, then we have been successful.