TKG LISTEN: Too many look-don’t-touch rules can harm children and nature


Too many look-don’t-touch rules can harm children and nature

By Janice Swaisgood/Children & Nature Network

This article is featured in our weekly newsletter to TKG Parents to support their advocacy for children’s right to a connection with Nature in school.  Each week, one of our school days is in nature – with freedom to play and explore!  Read on for the excerpt…

On a recent family hike in San Diego, one of the first things we came across was a sign, in front of an old, majestic oak tree near a cluster of big boulders. The sign said:StayOutofNature


“Stay on designated trails?” my son asked. “But this is a cow pasture, Mama. Why can’t we go climb the rocks?” And to be honest, in this situation I had a hard time arguing with them. Yes, we were in a county preserve, so we were obligated to stay on the trail, per County Ordinance 41.130. But this was no ordinary wildlife preserve. This was also a cow pasture. Literally. Full of invasive grasses too. Kids can’t get off the manicured dirt road to climb the rocks or trees. Heck, we weren’t even supposed to move off the trail in order to have a picnic under a tree.

A ranger drove by as we walked along the dirt road in the full sun. I flagged him down to ask about the rule and why it had to be so, even in a cow pasture.

He kindly suggested we visit the county park playground in Julian, Ca., (another half hour drive from where we were) and proposed I let my two boys run up and down the dirt road we were on. This was, after all, a protected, designated wilderness area, he said. And there were rattlesnakes there too – he just saw one last week! So it was really for our own safety too, I suppose, as snakes never come close to dirt roads and trails, right?

Read more about where the future stewards, biologists, conservationists, naturalists, and even park rangers will find their connection to Nature…

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