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May 02, 2009

The Nature Bomb

Kirkland  Have you ever heard the phrase, "The Bomb"? As in, when you are the bomb you are "All that!"
Well I saw a wonderfully passionate speaker Tuesday night at the No Child Left Inside symposium at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens who was "All That." The speaker, Jane Kirkland,  is a powerful speaker for childrens' environmental awareness and likes to be considered "The Bomb!" Not because she has been a passionate environmentalist all her life, because she wasn't, but because she underwent a life-changing experience. Jane's life was changed by a bird. A bald eagle. She noticed a bald eagle flying over her local grocery store and, because she happened to "look up" instead of at her car keys, her cell phone, her shoes, or her groceries, she saw a beautiful bald eagle flying above her and, astounded that she had seen "an endangered species," she grabbed everyone she could find in the parking lot to show them. They had never seen a bald eagle either. Thinking that she had made a major environmental discovery, she rushed to a park rangers office nearby and told him. The ranger informed her that well, to the park service, a bald eagle in her county of Pennsylvania was just not a big deal. They had been roosting in her "neighborhood" for 20 years. 

...She paused...
Twenty years, and she had never seen one because she had never paid enough attention to the natural world around her to see one.

After that day she made a resolution to spend 20 seconds a day just being in nature, where ever she happened to be, and it changed her life. In fact, it literally went to the birds for a while. Through many years of misadventures with the winged wonders of her native Pennsylvania, she grew to passionately love nature. She actually became convinced, because she had such a connection with her feathered friends, that she was "the bird whisperer" and eventually "THE actual BOMB."

Now, Jane sees the world around her the way that young children do, with wonder. Her new perspective has helped her to create a series of educational books for children and teachers titled, "Take a Walk" in which Jane explores the many wonderful variances of the natural world. Included in her series are, Take a Cloud Walk, Take a Back Yard Bird Walk, and Take a City Nature Walk. Her books have been featured on Animal Planet and PBS. She has accomplished other great things since that time but the most important step, and the one that anyone can take to connect with nature is to "Take a Minute to be In It. " Which means take just 60 seconds a day to be present in nature and appreciate its wonder. I will be doing this every day with my students from now on and I hope it sticks with them for the rest of their life.


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