Friday, April 8, 2011

Pros and cons for a White House wildlife garden

"I have been astonished at the small epiphanies I see in the eyes of a child in truly close contact with nature, perhaps for the first time. This can happen to grown-ups too, reminding them of something they never knew they had forgotten."

Quote from Robert Michael Pyle, one of the world's leading experts on butterflies.

Okay. Maybe I was wrong.

In a previous post, I said that I thought that Mrs. Obama should start a wildlife garden on the White House property to help encourage kids to get outside to appreciate nature.

It's certainly no secret that I feel that getting kids outside, eye-to-eye with the critters in their own yards and gardens, is a great way to encourage future generations of environmental stewards. And I thought that a White House wildlife  garden would be a great way to combine the efforts of organizations such as The Children and Nature Network, The National Wildlife Federation, America's Great Outdoors initiative through the Council of Environmental Quality and Mrs. Obama's Let's Move campaign.

But this week in my garden, I quickly learned that I was wrong. I now believe that  a wildlife garden on the White House grounds might not really be the best way to get kids to exercise and move more.

Why did I change my tune? Because the birds and the butterflies and the hummingbirds are visiting my yard and I've had a really hard time trying to motivate myself to move. I'm mesmerized. I really want to just sit and enjoy them, and marvel at the fact that after YEARS of tending an eco-friendly landscape, the yard has gotten to the point where hummingbirds feel completely comfortable hanging out on a tomato cage in a potted plant that isn't more than 9 feet from our front door.

Oh, I definitely still feel that eco-friendly gardens are a great place to get kids involved with nature. But the goal of the Let's Move campaign is to get kids moving and my husband will be the first one to tell you that when there are butterflies and hummingbirds in the yard, it's going to be really hard getting me to move.

Still, a wildlife garden on the White House property might not be such a bad idea after all. There are many Health Benefits to tending an eco-friendly garden. The kids can burn all sorts of calories digging and weeding and planting veggies. And then they can run, run, run over to the wildlife garden and sit in awe as they  munch a fist full of fresh peas or beans. After all, there are lots of health benefits in joy, pride, inspiration and awe, too.

Let's Move: America's Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids

America's Great Outdoors Initiative: Council on Environmental Quality

1 comment:

  1. Wrong for one reason, right for others! Kids need more exposure to nature, whether they are burning calories or not. A wildlife garden would have other, important benefits for kids: learning developing and understanding of and sensitivity to nature and cultivating a sense of wonder.


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