Kids these days! They don’t have the attention spans they used to. They don’t care about anything but video games. They don’t have goals for their futures. At least that’s what some people say.
Certainly with all the communication devices available today, children are different from previous generations. But hasn’t that been true of each succeeding generation? What we have seen in our work with school children and visitors to our refuges has convinced us that many young people these days show a lot of promise.
From a fifth grader at a Yuma, Arizona, elementary school whose fascination with scorpions amazed his teacher to a 7-year-old on the naturalist deck of the National Elk Refuge in Jackson, Wyoming, who explained that a snake’s tongue “takes molecules from the air and inserts them in its Jacobson’s Organ,” we have encountered numerous young people who show a passion for nature and the world around them. Many read about and pursue their interests. Many work hard to earn Junior Ranger badges at national parks and refuges. And many listen to and absorb information from us and other sources.
Much of the credit for a child’s passions and abilities goes to their parents and teachers. As one parent told me, “My children read a lot. I let them spend a lot of time at the library.”
Another parent indicated that bringing their children to a national park, refuge, or other nature facility rather than a large amusement park for vacation opens their eyes to wonders about them and helps expand their interests and prospects. Teachers who go to the effort to arrange field trips offer similar experiences to their students.
The results of such caring parents and teachers became obvious to us recently when we observed a green converted Greyhound bus pull into the parking lot at the visitor center in Jackson, Wyoming. On its side, in large bold letters, read “The Big Green Bus.” From inside, several college students emerged. These young people, we soon learned, were on a cross-country trip promoting alternative resources and a “green” way of life.
“We are 13 Dartmouth College students on the great American road trip with a purpose,” reads their website, thebiggreenbus.org.
“We are traveling the country on our 1998 MCI coach bus converted to run on waste vegetable oil and outfitted with solar panels, talking about sustainability. Our mission is to help create a future that sustains people, the environment, and the economy. We promote awareness and enthusiasm for sustainability through the sharing of information and innovation.”
The world is changing, along with the new generation; but there is a lot to be hopeful for. Hats off to all the parents, families, friends, and teachers who work hard bringing up this future generation. And special recognition and thanks to the young people who strive to follow their dreams and passions not only for self-gratification, but also for the betterment of the world around them.
You make us proud!
Inside the Big Green Bus: