A Sense of Place: Getting to Know Your Surroundings (page 2)
The Benefits of Paying Attention to Nature
The more you know about your bit of the planet the more you will want to live more lightly on the land. Many people feel that the most meaningful thing they have done for the earth is something they have done close to home, like:
- Preserve a local wetland.
- Take a group of children on a nature walk.
- Shop and eat locally.
- Plant native trees in a local park.
Questions to Ask and Answer to Better Understand Your Environment
Start by getting to know the place in which you live.
- What are the rock layers beneath your feet? How did they get there? Do they contain fossils?
- What do fossils tell us about ancient environments of the place? Was there a warm, shallow sea there?
- What influence did the ancient sea have on today’s world?
Glaciers were the most recent great continental ice sheet in North America.
- Was it covering your backyard, your school ground?
- How long ago was it there and where did it come from?
- How deep was the ice and how fast did it move?
- What impact did the glacier have on today’s landscape?
- What is a watershed?
- How high is your home or school above sea level?
- What does the water carry with it on its journey to the sea?
- If all the water is flowing into the sea, how does it get back to your home or school?
What did your county look like at the time of European settlement 200 years ago?
- How much land was covered by forest?
- What trees and other plants grew there?
- Why are the native plants so important to your home or school area, and what can you do to preserve them?
- Which plants in the woodland near your home or school can you eat or use as medicine?
What native mammals are found in your home and school area?
- What mammals have been extirpated from your area? Why did they disappear?
- Does hunting benefit wild mammals or humans?
- How can we best assure that native wild mammals will continue to be a part of our natural heritage?
Getting Engaged with Your Community
Are there rare natural habitats in your area – virgin forests, undisturbed wetlands, bogs, fens, prairies, or swamps? Could you visit them? How and why are they protected? If they are not protected, how could you help? Many other questions can be asked about the unique place in which you live. The more answers you discover, the more you will find that all things are interconnected, and the more knowledge and joy you will receive.
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