By Executive Director Brooks Paternotte
Here at Irvine Nature Center we like to abide by and promote the “Leave No Trace” principles. However, we have found that sometimes it poses a challenge, particularly with a range of participants from cradle to grey. As a result, I asked my team to sit down and discuss the challenges and determine how we could best communicate, particularly with our youngest participants, the importance of LNT.
Before getting into the discussion, I was inspired by the keynote speakers for our annual Nature Preschool Conference, Joylynn Holder and Charlie Foster, from Brooklyn Forest. They had mentioned that their students often made small structures like fairy houses from sticks, rocks, and other natural materials. When questioned about leaving such things in a public park, Charlie and Joylynn were emphatic about the need to disassemble and scatter their “loose parts” before leaving in order to allow the next group to have a similarly enriching and exploratory experience.
It was then that is dawned on me that we could follow LNT and continue to have the youngest visitors to Irvine engaged directly with their natural surroundings – it was all just a matter of getting the adults on board!
After a productive discussion, team members were tasked with articulating a statement that we could share with our young participants to emphasize the importance of LNT in a form that they could easily understand. Interim Director of The Nature Preschool Karen Madigan nailed it with the lovely poem below: