Start receiving our award-winning magazine today!



Growing Up Wild

What do you do for The Nature Conservancy?

Roxie Sylva:

I am the Maui Marine Program Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i. I work with community groups in Maui, Moloka‘i, and Lāna‘i to help ensure the abundance of our marine resources, not only as natural treasures, but as a source of food, and to encourage Hawaiian cultural practices. I help our communities understand Western science, I teach them how to conduct their own science through monitoring marine resources, and I host education and outreach events to build capacity in the community.   

A new survey reveals parents around the world are concerned children are not spending enough time outdoors. What is your reaction to that?

Roxie Sylva: 

I believe that different parenting methods determine how children will grow up and what they will value. As a child growing up in Hawai‘i, I spent a lot of time in nature learning the importance of our marine resources and how our actions on land affects the ocean. I want to pass this ‘ike (knowledge) on to my daughter so that she may respect and protect our ocean also. I keep Penny May involved in the work I do, both at home and with TNC. She is only 2 ½ years old, and I bring her with me to community meetings held by the ocean, and weather permitting, we play outside every day. We can’t always get into preserves or special places, but nature is all around us. We go out in the yard and collect flowers or search for insects and animals, feed and play with our dogs, and ride bikes. We sometimes play outdoors at a playground, and all the time we are talking about and exploring nature and our connection to it. On weekends, we spend time at the beach playing and observing things in the sand, picking up rubbish, learning about the critters in the tidepools, and of course, swimming. Penny May is a true “water baby” and she loves everything about the ocean. 

Why is it important to you that your children grow up connected to nature?

Roxie Sylva: 

It’s important to me that Penny May grows up connected to nature because it’s our source of food and culture. Here in Hawai‘i, we are raised with a responsibility to mālama (take care of) the land and sea. A traditional Hawaiian saying is translated as: if we take care of the land and sea, it will take care of us. I want to ensure my daughter and her children have more than enough food from our ocean to sustain their families. That means I have to teach her about our responsibility to care for it, as well as how we can use it and eat from it. I enjoy the work I do at TNC, bridging science and community-based conservation, because it’s important for our future generations. 

How does spending time outdoors impact your children?

Roxie Sylva: 

In so many ways! It stimulates her mind, body and spirit. Spending time outdoors gives my daughter space to run and explore. It allows her to inhale the sweet smell of the flowers, and feel the warmth of the sun on her skin. Penny May has the biggest curiosity with animals of all kinds. She always wants to play outside and find new critters to look at and play with. This year, we raised a caterpillar into a butterfly, and witnessing the stages of her caterpillars’ life cycle taught her great patience. 




We’re Accountable

The Nature Conservancy makes careful use of your support.

More Ratings

x animal

Sign up for Nature eNews!

Sign Up for Nature e-News

Learn about the places you love. Find out
how you can help.

Thank you for joining our online community!

We’ll be in touch soon with more Nature Conservancy news, updates and exciting stories.

Please leave this field empty

I'm already on the list!

Read our privacy policy.