Thanks Mom, for the gift of nature

How did your mom give you the gift of nature?

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Here are more details about the mother-child stories featured in this video:

Dan Siemann, Washington

Dan Siemann with his mom and sonDan works in the Pacific Regional Office in Seattle for the National Wildlife Federation on global warming and water issues.

“I really wanted to experience being an explorer and not being on the trail, not being bound by the trail. We were driving along and I asked my mom to stop and explore the woods. So she indulged me. She stopped and we got out of the car and we probably didn’t go more than 30 or 40 feet. I’m not sure we even got past the point where we couldn’t see the car anymore, but I remember for me it was totally exciting to be walking on the logs, and in the grass, and just going where the animals went, maybe walking in places that nobody else had ever walked. I remember just feeling like I was in the woods and free, kind of exploring things that nobody else had explored. Maybe I was the first person walking there or something like that. I just remember thinking this is the coolest thing. It made me want to go back and see it over and over again.”

“I wonder with my own son if like he said, “Dad can we stop and go walk into the woods?” If I hadn’t done that myself with my mom, I wonder if I would be as indulging or not. But it was such a cool experience for me. The ability to just walk off and go wherever and not be bound by the trail and experience the freedom of the woods.”

“She was a cool mom. And she loved travelling and she loved seeing new places. That was something that she instilled in me, is this sense of exploration and wonderment of the world, and going and experiencing things.”

Deji Akinpelu, Michigan

Deji is a member of National Wildlife Federation’s Youth Advisory Council. He is a student at Wayne State University. He attended National Wildlife Federation’s Earth Tomorrow program as a young man.

“I remember my mom used to always let me go outside and let me play in the backyard. And I think she even started, or attempted to grow a couple of crops. She grew some okra, spinach, tomatoes, also bell peppers. I just remember going outside and always having a great time, seeing so much greenery, and just exploring the outdoors, and just being at one with nature, even at a young age of seven or nine, I really had a great time doing that.”

“We had a playground. We always had time to play with the sand and look at the different invertebrates or vertebrates that were in the ground. We also made dirt pies. We saw cool creatures, what we call the roly poly. You touch it and it rolls up into a ball. Other than that, just looking at the different plants and seeing the vibrant colors. Just kind of like having that sense of security and tranquility when you are outdoors in nature.”

Beth Pratt, California

Beth Pratt with her mom and siblingBeth is the Director of National Wildlife Federation’s California program.

“What I remember most about my mother – we lived near the woods. We were at the end of this road. I grew up in the woods. And she would just walk as much as we wanted and take us through the woods and down to the Concord River. So I think my early memories of my mother were always outdoors. I don’t remember being indoors with her as much.”

“She would go to the library and get those wildlife books for me. She would buy the wildlife encyclopedias at the supermarkets when you could still do that so I could look at them.”

“For me, mom is the encourager. She still is. My mother, on Saturday accompanied me to National Junior Ranger Day in Yosemite, where Ranger Rick was making a appearance. She stickered Ranger Rick books. She was handing them out to kids. You could tell she was just as encouraged as I was of all the little kids getting sworn in by park rangers and Ranger Rick – the new Junior Rangers. She was the one who took me to state parks and all the great wildlife areas in New England so she’s just been forever associated with being outdoors and not only being outdoors but encouraging me to be someone who works for the environment.”

Ivy Simmons, Georgia

Ivy participated in the National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout in Atlanta last summer.

“I’m one of those moms who makes sure my kids get outside every day, just to get their energy out. Even before the whole nature deficit phenomenon research had been done and really been proven, I was very much aware of the benefits of being outside just to activate their mind and creativity because my mother grew up on a farm and always sent us outside. No matter rain, shine, snow – she grew up in Michigan – no matter how cold it is, you are going outside. I really think it helps them, just like I said, activate their creativity.”

“As my mother is from the country in North Carolina, you know we made everything from scratch. We were always out in the yard taking care of things. We didn’t waste things. If we cooked it, we ate it, even if we didn’t like it that much that time. And then we let go of it and we didn’t get excess. It was about not having excess and too much. Like even when the superstore started being popular, my mother is like, “But do you need all of that, and how much space does it take, and all this packaging.” As soon as recycling was available we did that.”

“It was naturally embedded in who she was because how she was raised, that really informed who we were. It’s the little things that you teach children. We don’t litter when we go out for walks. We’re going to clean up after ourselves. We’re going to make sure the fire is damped out. If you want to leave something for the birds, leave this type of thing, that’s not healthy for them. So that was really given to me young.”

Like Ivy, you can register to attend the Great American Backyard Campout this year!

Tim Brady, Pennsylvania

Tim is a philanthropy officer for National Wildlife Federation in Pennsylvania. Tim Brady with his mom and brother

“When I was four years old, my mom got me a subscription to Ranger Rick magazine. We had no money at the time. We were poor. But she got me this subscription, or at that time it was a membership in the Ranger Rick Club. I can remember every month that mail would come to my house, and it was for me, it had my name on it. I was so excited. Because we didn’t have much. The main thing I remember is the tin badge that I got from the Ranger Rick Club, and then looking at the pictures. I’m not sure if I could read yet, but just looking at these great pictures of animals.”

“So that was my first contact with National Wildlife Federation. So fast forward to about five years ago, I was working in development for a college, and the VP of development at NWF recruited me to come and work for NWF. Well, it wasn’t until I was sitting in the lobby of the headquarters here that I saw Ranger Rick magazine and connected the dots that NWF was Ranger Rick. So while I had gotten away from it for so many years, I had never forgotten Ranger Rick magazine. It had been burned into my memory as a wonderful experience as a kid to get Ranger Rick magazine.”

“My mom got divorced when I was about a year old and took me and my brother on this wild adventure across the country, kind of running from my dad. We would go to the Rocky Mountains, Utah, California, Washington, the state of Washington. Animals and wildlife were what she loved the most. She connected with animals better than she did people I feel, and sometimes I feel the same about myself. She was the one that really instilled in me the interest in animals and the love of animals. I can remember as a kid I would have fought to the death to protect an animal probably before a person because they were helpless and they needed us to help protect them. So it fits very well with Ranger Rick and with NWF, and I know if my mom were alive today, she would be so proud that I work for Ranger Rick.”

“It has been a life-changing experience to work for NWF because it got me re-introduced to the outdoors. I had gotten away from outdoor recreation in my twenties and thirties, with being busy and starting a family and everything else. Since coming to the NWF, I have picked up 10 or so new hobbies – kayaking, mountain biking, nature photography, gardening – the list goes on and on and it’s all because of the NWF that I do those things. And I just live for that these days. I’m introducing my son and my wife to them and they have become lovers of the outdoors as well because of that. And it’s all due to people that I work with here at NWF that I have been introduced to those hobbies.”

Like Tim’s mom, you can purchase a subscription to Ranger Rick magazine for your child!