Education Parenting

What Our Actions Teach Our Kids About The Earth

image by D. Sharon Pruitt @

Monroe Community College has a new greenhouse on campus and this past school year, more than 850 students enrolled in 11 courses — from botany to business management — with an agricultural component. Some of these classes made use of the greenhouse, where — with state-of-the-art heating and cooling systems — tomatoes potted in soil thrive near micro-greens cultivated hydroponically in nutrient-enriched water.

This summer MCC launched a week-long Agriculture Summer Camp for Kids. And this semester, MCC students — for the first time — are able to take an introduction to agriculture course. Much of the push for MCC’s closer ties to the agricultural community comes from Bob King, who is the founding director of the Agriculture and Life Sciences Institute at MCC, established in January 2007. “People are more and more concerned about sustainability and how to account for their carbon footprint. And what better way to do (that) than through agriculture?” King is quoted as saying.

I try to remain optimistic, but I find myself wondering if our efforts are merely an exercise in too little, too late? As thousands of gallons of oil oozed into the Gulf just off the coast of my beloved former home of Louisiana, I found myself thinking about how the more we try to fix things, the more we muck things up.

We teach our children they can be anything, that they can do anything. Do we teach them to sit quietly and listen to the earth? To appreciate a blade of grass? To understand how we are dependent on the oxygen produced by the plants and trees around us? Are we willing to spend the extra time to tend our own lawns rather than dump funky chemicals onto our properties to make our lawns look like golf-course greens?

My friend, Jennifer Hess, is working to make change in our local school district lunch program: To integrate healthier choices into the kids’ daily fare; after all, that is what the district health curriculum preaches. She has written an amazing blog on the topic of school nutrition. I am behind her 100%. How far are people willing to go to learn about the effects of hormones in meat and milk? About high fructose corn syrup and its relationship to the obesity epidemic? What do you do when you learn that supposedly vitamin packed soft-drinks turn out to be no healthier than sodas? And once you know, how willing are you to change your purchasing and eating habits?

5 thoughts on “What Our Actions Teach Our Kids About The Earth

  1. We seem to have to take so much on trust as far as commodities are concerned. I do wonder how many of us stop & listen to the earth as a matter of daily habit. We adults have allowed other things to get in the way. Perhaps we need to stop & reflect ourselves then maybe we’ll be in a position to guide our youngsters.

  2. You can just about bet when a drink comes out that is “vitamin packed” that it is also packed with dyes and sugars and other things that would cancel out any and all nutrition you MIGHT get from the drink. Don’t get me wrong, I am a sucker for 7UP but everything in balance. Soda is treated like a treat in our house; we do not buy much milk because of the pasteurization process and we never have “kid friendly” drinks because they are so bad for you.

    All of this is making me think of the Gatorade commercial where the athletes are sweating blue and red. I saw that and I thought “ew”. Maybe it helped them sell the drink, but for me it made me think of all the red dye going into my body.

    And then all the plastic bottles etc. that everything comes in leaves trash and more trash. Recycling (made easier for most places) is still not being utilized by most, sometimes due to the lack of poor communication from the recycling centers on exactly what can be recycled. The bottle may have the little arrows saying you can recycle but you community may not actually recycle that particular item, so people get confused when their bins are not picked up and think “fuck it!, I tried.” I have been one of those people who has become frustrated by the recycling biz. I still do my best but it is highly frustrating dealing with them.

    I think, people are afraid of changing. If you take away convenience, there is a crumbling and panic that goes off in people. We are a culture of convenience and it is being passed down from parent to child. I could go on in a tangent right here but I will spare you 🙂

    I think the other thing is many people can not afford to eat healthy. The prices of junk food are lower than the prices of fresh veggies and fruit. Even those in government programs that get help with groceries do not have enough Gov bucks a month to eat healthy. It seems almost set up for failure. And then you have companies claiming to be more healthy and organic but when you actually take a closer look, you see it’s all lies. This adds another realm of confusion for the person who is trying to eat better and another reason to throw it in the fuck-it bucket. After a while, you start feeling betrayed by companies who claim to be what they are not.

    It does not mean we stop doing our best. WE are the ones who pass on to our children that what we do. No matter how little it may seem, it echoes for an eternity. And we need to show them that getting frustrated is part of the process in finding real solutions so they should push through it.

    Ok, I am stepping off my soap box:)

  3. Hey, judging from your article, this free spirited-tree hugging-hippie mom is doing alright! Although, my kids do drink Vitamin Water and eat occasionally @ McDs! But my kids know about and participate at home with recycling, gardening, composting, and a slew of other environmentally sound practices. They don’t kill spiders; they capture them and let them go!

    I don’t think its ever to late to appreciate good/caring habits. Have we done damage? Yes, but I also think we are searching for enlightenment. I do think people are trying to get back to basics. But again is it we’re actually doing “more” damage now, or because of technology we hear about “all the crap” (no pun directed a composting) more? Again, I don’t think its ever too late to try and teach better “earthly” habits. 😀

  4. To “sit quietly and listen to the earth” is a spiritual as well as a beautiful environmental wisdom — “Ecological Meditation” (I just made that up.) One protocol of addiction treatment I studied is called “Wilderness Therapy” which tries to inculcate respect for nature leading to respect for self regarding poison/substance abuse for addicts. The animist and spirit worship of Native American Indians speaks to this and should be appreciated. We have to get these guys BEFORE it’s messed up, so damage-clean up (never really satisfactory) is not necessary.

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