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Growing Up Wild In Michigan

Saginaw Bay Project Director Mary Fales

"If future generations are going to be the stewards of our planet, then we have to start helping them experience and enjoy nature when they are young!"--Mary Fales

A global survey of parents and kids reveals that nature is not just "something to do," it is a crucial part of growth. We asked some of our staff who are also parents to weigh in on the importance of "growing up wild."

What do you do for The Nature Conservancy?

Mary Fales:

I am the Saginaw Bay Watershed Project Director and I spend most of my time working to develop and implement new ways to incentivize farmers to conduct their operations in a way that will reduce the impact of farming on our Great Lakes.

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

Mary Fales:

From my experience kids are likely spending more time indoors and less time interacting with nature. I think the responsibility rests with parents to make outdoor activities a priority and provide a wide range of opportunities for kids to interact with nature.

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

Mary Fales:

In my own childhood I spent a lot of time outdoors, camping, canoeing and hiking. My experiences growing up are what led me to a career trying to protect Michigan’s water resources. If kids aren’t exposed to nature, they likely won’t put much value on it. If future generations are going to be the stewards of our planet, then we have to start helping them experience and enjoy nature when they are young!

How does spending time outdoors impact your children?

Mary Fales:

My sons are always much happier when they have time to get outside, get dirty and run around. They love wading in streams, fishing and going on hikes. No matter what we are doing outside it always makes them think and ask lots of questions--I think it really stimulates their minds!

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