INVOLVE STUDENTS IN ENVIRONMENTAL RESOLUTIONS
are only a few days into the new year but already most people have realized
their rock solid pledge to eat less, exercise more and play fewer video
games may have been too ambitious. To ease the guilt, how about adding
a New Years resolution that anyone can readily complete and feel
I am suggesting that your single environmental resolution be to offer
the half dozen goals below to a student to complete. For my purposes
here, a student is defined as someone who is in grade school, high school,
or college, so the field is wide open. Finding someone to fill the bill
should be easy. If you do not have ready access to grandchildren, nieces,
nephews or neighborhood children, send this column to a teacher or guidance
counselor at a local school. Some teachers will appreciate having a
ready-made assignment for their science class.
please try to complete the following checklist of six environmental
resolutions. With a determined effort, they could all be done in a single
day, but you have all year or, if this is a class project, until the
end of the semester to complete the assignments. Two of the resolutions
require access to the Internet.
out a tree in your neighborhood. If you do not already know what kind
it is, ask someone. Then go to several reputable sources to learn about
the ecology of the species. Printed books and encyclopedias are reliable
sources, but most students will probably prefer to use a computer, so
a word of caution is in order.
most websites have not been subjected to rigorous scientific and editorial
reviews, misinformation is rampant on the Internet. Most sites sponsored
by a university, museum or government agency would classify as reputable.
Use the scientific name of the species in the search to help pull up
sites that are likely to be trustworthy. Learning all you can about
the ecology, geographic distribution and close relatives of a target
species will ensure that you appreciate it for the rest of your life.
Likewise, learning how to use the Internet to acquire scientific information
is a worthwhile exercise in itself.
2. If you
are in high school or college, examine the ecology programs of five
U.S. colleges and rank them based on what you would look for in a degree
program in environmental science. Include at least one university in
your own state. If you are in elementary or middle school, find two
institutions of higher learning that have an ecology program and write
a paragraph about the program in your own words.
a natural history museum, nature park, zoo or public aquarium. Many
are highly instructional regarding fundamental environmental topics
such as endangered species, air and water quality, and climate change.
This will be a particularly easy resolution to complete if a school
field trip is already planned.
a 30- to 40-minute walk around your neighborhood to look at trees, shrubs,
birds, insects and other life. Sometimes we take nature for granted.
Looking closely at the natural world around us is the best way to gain
an appreciation of it.
a book on the natural history of a group of plants or animals. Field
guides are numerous as are the categories to choose from. A book on
mammals or mushrooms, fish or ferns, birds or butterflies just might
turn you on to how fascinating the outdoors and its inhabitants are.
Merely looking at a book in the library can help you become more aware
of the natural world.
you have completed 1 through 5 above, let the person who gave you the
list know you have finished.
you are the person with the list of resolutions and cannot find a student
to give them to, plan to curtail your daily exercise time for several
days and fulfill the resolutions yourself. Happy New Year.
you have an environmental question or comment, email