To all my Avatar fans, this post is for you. This past weekend I just finished watching James Cameron’s wonderful film and could not help but be inspired by the Na’vi character’s intense connection with the natural world. The characters not only find beauty and pleasure throughout Pandora, but they also have a deep spiritual bond with nature that helps to guide their lives. This powerful appreciation for the world around them was beautiful to watch, but it left my mind wondering how we as modern humans have become so disconnected from the Earth around us. We are caught up in the grind of our daily lives that we often don’t have the chance (or more likely, take the time) to stroll along the river or run through the trees. Is this excuse what is really stopping us from enjoying the world around us, or is there something more?
Through my time at the DuPont Environmental Education Center I have sensed that this is a problem many individuals face. They admire the outdoors, but they don’t often spend time outside. Part of it is a busy lifestyle, but I personally believe a big part of it is that humans have lost the “nature value” that our ancestors once held so dearly. Once humans became farther removed from nature during the industrial revolution, people were provided less outdoor experiences, faced less known dependence on the planet for survival, and lost appreciation for the natural beauty around them as buildings and roads began to take over the landscape. I believe this removal from the environment is what has conditioned individuals to lose their “nature value” that is now so hard to come by. Finding individuals who care and value the environment in a way that the Na’vi do are one in a million, so how do we bring back this connection to the natural world as seen throughout Pandora?
I think the first step is environmental education, which is the goal of DEEC and the other centers in the Alliance for Watershed Education. But more importantly, it is not just education that needs to occur but rather impactful and enlightening educational opportunities with the environment. Anyone can give a lecture on the importance of tidal marshes, but we need special educators with passion and charisma to make the information stick and to inspire kids to make that necessary connection with nature. Making the environment exciting and inviting is what DEEC strives to do, and has been my own personal summer goal. As the months continue, I will use the lessons of the Na’vi and James Cameron as inspiration to connect all members of our community with nature and all it has to offer to us as humans in a beautiful and exciting way that excites community members of all ages, and try my best to do more than just share information, but make it as exciting and personal to the lives of the kids as I can so they can find their “nature value”.