With all the everyday life lessons to keep track of (look both ways before crossing, wash your hands, etc.) it's hard to think about the big topics, such as refining your child's environmental consciousness. Sometimes taking matters into your own hands is the best way to set an example for your child.
Have you ever seen an environmental eyesore and said, "Somebody ought to do something about that"? Well, that's what Kelly Stettner said of the junk in the river near her home in Springfield, Vermont. Her husband's reply: "Well, you're somebody."
Stettner, the mother of a 1-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter, says this poke in the ribs prompted her to form the Black River Action Team in 2000, a group of environmentally-conscious citizens who organize clean-ups of the river every year. "Everybody can be a Somebody, and that's the foundational philosophy of the BRAT," she says.
How can you show your child how to be a Somebody in your community? Stettner recommends finding out if an organization is already working on a specific river or stream in your area by going to the Environmental Protection Society's watershed website. "These organizations are usually very happy to hear from interested people!"
If there isn't a clean-up effort already underway near you, here's a guide to starting a project from scratch.
What You Need:
- Work gloves
- Trash bags
- Camera for taking lots of photos of volunteers getting down and dirty
- Safety waiver ("While this won't protect you in the event someone sues you, it will help people get in the mind-set that they may encounter safety issues and should act responsibly," Stettner says)
- Safety posters (photos of poison ivy & other noxious plants, warnings to leave heavy or sharp objects to be picked up later, etc.)
- Basic first-aid kit
- Shovel and separate bucket for sharp stuff like fishing lures, broken glass, etc...
- Map of the area to be cleaned. Stettner's choice: www.topozone.com