Valuing Nature on Father’s Day

The morning sun will peek over the trees this Father’s Day as I scan the inside of my family’s tent—wondering just how I was elbowed to its very edge while my wife and two children sprawl across the other 90 percent. Since the birth of my daughter Audrey, almost nine years ago, my wife Andrea and I have packed up the car and taken the kids camping for Father’s Day weekend in one of the many state parks, national forests or national parks surrounding our home just outside of Washington D.C.

Why trade in my nice bed for being pushed off the sleeping pad onto the hard ground? Because my wife and I see it as our responsibility to awaken the awe in our children of the value of nature—to behold the joy in their faces as they turn over a rock to see an Eastern Redback Salamander, to run amok around the campsite catching lightning bugs (or fireflies—depending on the part of the country from which you hail), or to take an early morning walk, with their little hands dug into mine, looking for the Pileated Woodpecker whose presence was announced with its loud hammering into the side of a tree.

WWF’s mission is to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature. To achieve our bold vision, we need to reach out and play the chord that resonates in each of us on the nature of inspiration and the inspiration of nature—those nuggets that nature provides and we value.

How is humanity doing at valuing nature? The answer is we (the global “we”) could be doing better. WWF recently released the Living Planet Report—a barometer of the status of the earth’s biodiversity and humanity’s ecological footprint. It shows that the status of biodiversity has been on a steady decline since 1970. At the same time, our ecological footprint now exceeds the renewal capacity of the earth to support our collective lifestyle. Business-as-usual is no longer an option—we need to re-awaken our value of nature and that all starts with you.

Think back to your childhood—I bet the memories you remember best are those spent outside: exploring, fishing, playing in snow, going to the beach, camping. These are just some of nature’s values that we cannot forget as we grow older. These values will inspire action in us as adults and hopefully tip the status of the earth’s biodiversity back in a positive direction.

This Father’s Day—take your kids outside. I’ll be camping under the protective canopy of oak and ash trees, watching Owen disrupt the babbling of the brook, as he heaves hundreds of rocks into it—while Audrey and Andrea collect items from the forest floor to build a fairy house. Hopefully, I’ll get some of the sleeping pad this year.