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My Conservation Ethic

Stretch the roots of your natural passion to your circle of friends.

It started innocently years ago.

A friend asked why the squirrels in her neighborhood had white tails. And then, a panicked call that the neighbors were going to cut down a tree suspected to house a great-horned owl's nest.

Soon, the calls and e-mails started pouring in.

"What is the brilliant black-and-yellow bird at my feeder?"

"A red fox is raising her young under the barn. Will they harm the goats?"

“Is it true a white-tailed doe could have antlers?”

After a friend bought some acreage in the country, and asked me to identify the trees for her, she got my help--and a tree identification book as a housewarming present.

In my inner circle of friends I had become the go-to person for all things outdoors, and they bestowed upon me a nickname: Nancy Nature.

What did I do to get this reputation? I couldn’t hide my conservation ethic.

I’ll blame my conservation ethic on my parents and the sensibilities to nature they subtly engrained in me throughout my childhood. There were the casual strolls through the woods. And days we spent splashing in the shallow river, chasing minnows and picnicking on the sand bar. There was the clipboard by the window to record birds at the feeder--and the clamor that arose when a new species arrived.

In accepting an award in 2006 for his stewardship work, actor Harrison Ford said:  "We can unite the world to take individual responsibility by establishing a global conservation ethic that every person--rich, poor, indigenous--can embrace. We need every person on the planet, all 6.5 billion inhabitants, to understand that they must do their part and take individual responsibility for conserving, protecting, and restoring nature."

Doing your part doesn’t take much.

Be a role model and mentor youth. Even if you don't know a particular subject, pick up a book and learn together. Make a habit of attending programs sponsored by a local museum, nature center or park. Gather the family around the TV to watch a nature show. Take an evening walk and look for something new each night. Research and plant a bed of native, perennial flowers. Put up a bird feeder and learn to identify birds. Seek out the "Nancy Nature" in your inner circle--or take the steps to become one yourself.

A Greek philosopher once said, "Life is a gift of nature, but a beautiful life is a gift of wisdom."

It’s a beautiful life when you embrace nature. Pass it along.

By: Kathy Andrews