Save the Environment Poster

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Poster

I love reading articles that help me become the green-living person I aim to be.  I want to keep a healthy environment  for my children but when I look at the road ahead my passionate personality can get completely overwhelmed until I switch off.  I really don’t want to switch off, I want to make a difference!

A blog I regularly enjoy reading is Down to Earth Mother.  Jo inspires busy mothers, like me, to make simple green-living changes to our lifestyle. She delivers each post with thought and encourages us to take lighter steps on our planet. She’s awesome!

After reading many interesting and eye-opening posts in one day though, I was close to the edge. I just wanted to roll into a ball and rock. It wasn’t Jo’s posts, it was a video about a baby bird that had died because it had been fed only plastic from its mother. But what was rolling into a ball  going to achieve?

Instead, I took Jo’s advice and started making small changes. I also channelled that overwhelming conservation fatigue into making a poster for myself, a reminder that I can make a difference!

I’m sharing this Save the Environment Poster with you in the hope that it may inspire you too.

Click here to download the poster

Help Save the Environment Poster

Here’s what I’ve changed since having this on my fridge.

  • I always (not just sometimes) use my reusable shopping bags each week.
  • I no longer use bin liners and instead just dump the rubbish straight in the bin.
  • I’ve swapped plastic lunch bags with brown paper bags.
  • I’ve revamped my worm farm and am using it again.
  • I pick up more rubbish when I’m out and about.
  • I’m still not buying water bottles (although I haven’t since that post).
  • I’m being more conscious of and reducing the amount of plastic packaging that comes with food.
  • I’m buying more local produce from our market food stalls.

It’s taken me a month to make all these changes. These changes may be small but when I think about how all of those add up, in a year, in 10 years, the difference will be huge!

Ten Top Butterfly Activities

Ten Top Butterfly Activities

If your child has been showing an interest in butterflies lately, why not extend on their interest with these ten top butterfly activities!

1.  Learn about Butterflies

Start your butterfly journey by learning all about them. Check out these great websites:

We’re learning about the endangered Richmond Birdwing Butterfly and thankfully we’ve found a great website that’s given us  wealth of information  Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network.

2. Search for Butterflies

Go on a nature bushwalk and hunt for butterflies. You’ll need to focus on finding a butterfly if you’re searching for them, one could flutter right past you and you’d miss it. It might take some time but when you finally find one, you’ll smile from ear-to-ear! Make sure you take these explorer essentials with you too!

Looking for Butterflies

3. Make the mask

It can be hard to find Butterflies in the wild so I’ve created a mask for children to help them connect with the colourful insect through play. This butterfly mask is a  Richmond Bird Wing Butterfly.

Click to Download

Free Butterfly Mask Printable

Butterfly Mask

You can also download the eyes and proboscis (tongue) butterfly mask here.

3. Butterfly play

When we play this simple game at home, the girls love it. Simply ask you children to act out exactly what you say. Use a calm, gentle voice and talk about each part of the life cycle.

Here’s what I usually say.

‘ A tiny little egg sat on a leaf. It was very still and very small. The egg was still for quite some time (pause). Then, the animal inside started to wriggle. It didn’t break open the egg, it was just getting ready to leave its comfy warm egg home (pause).  Suddenly, the egg hatched and out popped a little caterpillar. He slowly stretched his body out long and moved all his limbs one by one (pause). Soon, he started to feel very hungry and looked for some nice, juicy leaves to eat. He ate and ate and got bigger and bigger until he was so big he could hardly move. Then, he started building his cocoon. He weaved a silk  button below himself and then he stood on it.  Next, he shed his skin by gently wiggling his body until he was covered in a chrysalis. He was very patient while his body changed within his new home. He waited and waited and waited (pause). When he was ready he started to make his way out of the chrysalis. He gently pushed his way out making sure he didn’t damage his delicate wings. Once he had climbed out,  he raised his beautiful, colourful wings and froze to let them dry. When the butterfly felt confident he flapped his wings and rose in to the air. He fluttered past some trees and through the forest looking for beautiful colourful fruits to eat. Now he was old enough to help make babies too.’Butterfly Play

5. Read Butterfly Books 

There are a heap of butterfly books out there. Go to your local library and you’ll find plenty. We have been focusing on two books about butterflies. The very popular book by Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Birdwings’ New home by Lynette Reilly.

6. Plant a Butterfly Vine

We were lucky enough to get a Richmond Bird Wing Butterfly vine to plant in our garden. It wouldn’t take much to find out about a vine to plant that would help a butterfly in your area.

Richmond Birdwing Butterfly Vine

7. Colour in this Butterfly Colouring Page

Click here to download

Butterfly colouring Page

8. Visit a butterfly house

It’s quite sad that we don’t have a butterfly house where we live any more. I know my girls would be memorised seeing so many butterflies up-close and watching them feed using their long proboscis. It would also be really good to see the different chrysalis made by different butterflies.

9. Rescue Butterflies

This website explains how to help a butterfly should you find a sick or injured one. It gives you a solution to feed butterflies and also explains how to hold them without damaging their wings.

10. Butterfly Conversation - How can you help? 

Butterfly Conservation has a lovely list of ways that you can help with butterfly conservation. Read on and act for butterflies!

The Wildlife Rescue Kit for every Car!

Wildlife Rescue Kit for EVERY car

I was driving  to a friend’s place late one evening, enjoying the empty roads that night driving brings when from the corner of my eye I notice a possum running full speed toward my car. He was so close that I didn’t have time to slow down. After feeling a slight tap on the wheels I stopped my car on the side of the road. My mind was screaming “no!” and I burst into tears.

I turned the car around and used my headlights to look for the horrid scene flashing in my mind.  I searched everywhere with my headlights and then got out at what I thought was the exact location. Nothing. He was nowhere to be seen.  Not finding him was both positive, he may be fine because I just clipped him and negative, he may be wondering in the bush injured.

At that moment  I realised just how unprepared I was. I kept wishing I had a torch in my car but that’s not all I was missing. I would have needed quite a few items should I have found the possum. I regularly check animals on the side of the road  and it’s really irresponsible of me not to have had one of these packs.

Here’s a list of wildlife rescue items everyone should have in their car in case of a finding sick or injured wildlife.

Wildlife emergency kit

Wildlife Rescue Kit

Flourescent vest. There’s been a couple of sad incidents lately where someone stopped to help a wild animal and ended up in hospital themselves. Please be careful around moving traffic. A fluro vest will make sure cars can see you so that you can safety rescue the animal.

Torch.  A torch is a must because most animals are hit from dusk until dawn. It would have been much easier to search for a possum hidden in the scrub with a torch in hand.

Gloves. Gloves will help to protect yourself from an animal you may have to pick up. Any animal with a mouth can inflict an injury to you, so make sure you have these in your pack. You’ll thank me if you ever have to pick up parrot or sugar glider!

Towel. Once you find the injured animal, if it’s still mobile, you’ll need to catch it. A towel is not only another way to protect yourself from the frightened animal but it’s a good way to catch an animal too. Throw it over the animal and quickly grab it.

Pillow case. Pillow cases are an excellent way to restrain and transport small animals. Make sure you have some string or rubber bands to secure the pillow case too.

First aid Kit. Despite your best efforts to reduce the risk to yourself, wild animals can be very determined to get away by any means necessary. You may still get scratched or bitten. It’s always good to have a basic first aid kit on hand just in case. I made my own but this is a good little one to add to the kit.

Pliers. It’s always good to have these handy should an animal be stuck on an object like barbed wire etc.

Box. Boxes are another great way to secure a sick or injured animal. They can also be used to gently scoop up an animal into the box creating a good safety barrier between you and your patientA word of warning though. Make sure you secure that box VERY well. The last thing you want is an animal on the loose in your car while you’re driving them to a vet or hospital.

Important Phone number list. Rather than having to search contact numbers on your phone, have a list of the important phone number you’ll require if you do pick up a sick or injured animal. It’s so much easier just to have them on hand. I stuck mine to the box

Wildlife care

Wildlife reference books. Another helpful addition can also be a local species reference book and a caring for wildlife book too.

A few important tips before rescuing a sick or injured animal

  • Do not attempt a rescue unless you are confident that you will not be harmed and your actions will save the animal.
  • Wild animals become stressed by handling, so you should seek expert advice before handling an injured animal.
  • Never pick up snakes. Always call an expert.
  • Never touch bats. An expert, with the lyssavirus vaccination must attend this rescue. Learn more about this here.
  • Try to keep the animal calm by minimising the noise and interaction with people. Only handle if absolutely necessary.
  • Do not try to give the animal food and water. That’s the last thing the animal needs right now. It need specialised care.
  • Please don’t keep the animal and try to treat it yourself. You’re doing the animal a disservice by not handing it over to a hospital and specialised carer with the important knowledge and training.
  • Always check dead animals too, as they may have surviving young with them (e.g. in a pouch) or near them.

Want to do more for wildlife?

Learn how to become a wildlife carer for those orphaned and sick wildlife cases that come through vet and wildlife hospitals. There are never enough wildlife carers! Ask your local wildlife hospital for details on an organisation near you.

There’s plenty of wonderful wildlife carers out there with more experience on capturing and restraining wild animals than me. Did I miss anything? What else would you suggest we add to this basic wildlife rescue kit?

Helping Save Tigers with a Decorated Jar

Help save the Tiger with just a decorated Jar. Loose change will help!

On a visit to Dreamworld last week, high on the list of activities to achieve was visiting  the tigers. Miss Possum, Panda and  Platypus had never seen a real tiger before and it was wonderful to give them the experience and to see their reaction.

It was only a few days after the visit that we heard a keeper was bitten by a tiger at a different park, Australia zoo. It’s obviously a high risk job working alongside these animals but I’m thankful they are there helping connect the public with the tiger. The keepers are there to encourage  that connection and get people to act for this special animal.

Tiger picture

After talking to one of the tiger keepers, Scott, we learnt a lot about how and why they are declining so rapidly. He’s passion was obvious and I couldn’t help put some money in the donation box near the animal enclosure.

We learnt that there are as few as 3200 tigers left in the world. That was quite a shock to me. That’s not many at all!
The Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation has raised over $1 million exclusively for tiger conservation project and continues to raise money every day. I wondered what we could do to help.

If you do go to Dreamworld, don’t miss out on venturing into the Tiger’s Lair. As we walked in, we were initially disappointed because we couldn’t see any tigers. Then, Miss Possum suddenly pointed up and to our shock it was right above our heads, less than 1 meter away.

learning about tigers

We looked at the fur and could also see a paw and how heavily the tiger was breathing. It was mesmerizing.

When we got home Miss Possum and I started chatting about the tigers and thinking about what we could do to help. She brought up the ways we’ve acted for wildlife before but  there wasn’t much we could do on home soil that we weren’t already doing. We’d already become aware of palm oil plantations causing the destruction of forests while learning about the plight of Orangutans, so we’ve been quite conscious about not buying products that contain it.  We also have been supporting sustainable paper products for a long time now too.

The easiest option for us was to save up some money to help the Tiger.  We decorated a jar as a way to remind us of the cause we were supporting. Miss Possum will check my purse for loose change once a week and donate the money to the kitty (he he he, pun intended).

Ways to help save the tiger

I remember saving my loose coins this way when I was young and in less than 6 months we had raised over $200.

I have no doubt we will reach our goal and be able to contribute money to help save this magical, fierce animal. It would be tragedy should these animals become extinct on our watch!

More information on Tigers 

*I was not paid for this post but was given tickets to allow my family and I visit the tigers at Dreamworld.

The Queensland Plan: A Nature-based Education Culture?

A Nature-based Classroom Culture

 Sponsored by Nuffnang

Usually my posts are about activities you can do at home with your own children, because this is the easiest place for each of us to make a difference when it comes to raising environmentally conscious youngsters, but there’s no denying we need change on a broader scale if the next generation is going to help solve the climate and conservation issues our world is facing now and into the future. Today I’m giving you the opportunity to contribute to the bigger picture when it comes to educating children in Queensland.

The Queensland Plan will outline a shared vision for our state for the next 30 years, and it is being developed through a collaborative process that you can participate in right now. I’d love for you to share your opinions on this topic in the comments section below. Using your comments, I’ll then fill in the Queensland survey on behalf of this community.

Education Culture: How do we create and foster an education culture that teaches skills and values to meet global challenges and optimise regional strengths?

I’m passionate about nurturing environmental awareness through connecting children with nature, so it’s not surprising that I have some pretty strong views on where our educational culture should be heading! There’s no question in my mind that we need more nature in our classrooms, for the benefit of both our children and the environment, and there are plenty of experts who agree with me:

‘A growing body of evidence suggests that time spent in more natural environments (indoors or outdoors) can reduce the symptoms of attention disorders, and improve cognitive functioning as well as creativity, socialization and mental and physical health. (Richard Louv, Children & Nature Network)’

For specific examples, you can find scientific studies and reports here.

So how would I incorporate wildlife and the environment into the curriculum? Here are just a few suggestions.

 Make it a Priority

If building a connection with nature isn’t a priority, it won’t happen. I understand that given the realities of curriculum, teaching and testing, it’s hard to add another thing to a teacher’s list but I think it’s worth the effort. I feel that it’s important to incorporate nature into the classroom on a consistent basis, not just sporadically.

Nature in the classroom

Embed it into the education culture

There are lots of simple ways to embed nature on a classroom level without it becoming a chore (e.g. taking learning outside, hanging magnifying glasses at the door for playtime) but I think it needs to be included in the culture of schools. Children are still punished by restricting their playtime outside, when that time outdoors may be just what they need. Evidence shows that children are spending more and more time inside. Learning about the environment and their place in it is more important than ever.

Encourage action

Finding joy in the natural world is essential to nurturing eco-friendly beliefs and attitudes, but it’s never too soon to start taking action as well.

You may notice that I blog about action activities in WF4K here and there.   I’m not saying everything should be action-orientated, but if your children are showing strong feelings about an environmental issue, why not let them think of ways to help? A letter to a local politician can double as writing practice; a fundraising activity can be used to teach addition and subtraction.

Want know more about how to get nature into your schools and classrooms? Read this brilliant article written by Richard Louv.

What would you do to encourage a nature education culture in schools?  
How DO we foster an educational culture that will save our environment? 

This is a chance to add to a collective of aspirations and priorities to shape Queensland’s future. Find out more about the Queensland Plan.

Your comments below will be added to the survey, so speak up for our future generations, for their education and for the environment!

This blog topic was commissioned by the Queensland Government to raise awareness of The Queensland Plan. Content and ideas are entirely the author’s own. You can see my full disclosure policy here

Act for Orangtuans: Action Postcards for Kids

Orangutans image

I was made aware of the plight of orangutans a couple of years go whilst on a wildlife education conference at Melbourne Zoo. They were inspiring their visitors to act for orangutans with their Palm it Off campaign and during that visit I connected with those beautiful animals and learnt a lot about how I could help.

I’m not perfect and some times I need new inspiration to get me actively helping  a species in need. There’s so many animals to help and so little time.

In light of a new campaign to help orangutans, the Bloggers to Borneo campaign in collaboration with Digital Parents and  The Orangutan Project has inspired me to act again and help create change for these animals that are so like us!  This time Miss Possum helped me too.

Just look at those eyes.  I showed Miss Possum a picture of an Orangutan and she connected with the eyes straight away. Those eyes are almost human. They’re more expressive than most animal’s eyes and although I feel like all animals have a soul, this one feels different. They understand us more, they feel more.

‘During the past decade the orangutan population has decreased by approximately 50 percent in the wild. This is primarily due to human activities including rainforest destruction for palm oil plantations. At present, 80 percent of orangutan habitat has been altered or lost.’( (The Orangutan Project, 2013)

If you haven’t heard much about orangutans and their major threat than palm oil plantations are the equivalent of a huge bulldozer destroying thousands of animals lives and homes (many endangered). Palm oil is in a lot of products and we need to be aware of the companies that aren’t making the change to more sustainable practices.  They need to know that we aren’t happy about what they’re using in their products and how that impacts the environment.

Miss Possum and I decided that we would send a postcard to McDonald’s who apparently are still using palm oil in their frying process. We would love for you to send one to McDonald’s too. I’ve made postcards to download that can be used for any company you know is doing the wrong thing.  Public pressure can help to stop the destruction of Orangutan habitat.

Help Orangutans

Writing a letter to help Orangutans FOR KIDS

The McDonald’s address:

Managing Director
Catriona Noble
McDonald’s Head Office
21-29 Central Ave
THORNLEIGH NSW 2120

I can’t save the world, I can’t save all animals (I wish I could) and  I don’t want my children to feel they need to save the world either but I do want them to recognize that small changes in their lifestyle can help wildlife and make a big difference. I do want them to understand that feeling sad about an animals destruction achieves nothing  but acting for the animals makes a difference and you feel great doing it.

Please help the Orangutans and join with me to tell businesses that it’s not okay!

Download the postcard set by clicking on the picture below.

Helping Kids Act for Wildlife

Print the postcard pack and then decide on the colouring-in option or the open-ended postcard option. Your child can draw a picture in the box. Stick the postcards onto some recycled cardboard to make it more sturdy.

Other ways you can help Orangutans

  • Learn more about palm oil and what products contain it. This Facebook page is great for keeping you updated on who is still using this product despite it palm oil plantations causing habitat destruction.
  • Donate to the Bloggers to Borneo Fundraising Drive. All money raised will directly help the endangered orangutan by providing support for a wide range of projects, including habitat protection; rehabilitation projects and orphan care centers.
  • Adopt an Orangutan from The Orangutan Project. Just take a look at those cute little faces. You’ll be smitten!

 

Do you let your Children Act for Wildlife?

wildlife conservationIf, during play time, your child expresses a desire to help an endangered species, remember that children can inspire great action if given the opportunity.

Last week Miss Possum and I were playing wombats and whilst learning about their burrows, Miss Possum spied a picture of Australia. She pointed to a small shaded area in the north of Australia and asked if wombats live there too. I said they did but that they might not for long because there’s not many left. I explained that the Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat was close to being extinct.

Big words for a four year old but important words.

Northern Hairy Nosed WombatImage credit

When she replied, ‘Mum, we must save them,’ I knew that I shouldn’t ignore this opportunity. Like the dead sea turtle we found, I didn’t shade her eyes from the truth.

I understand that many of us don’t want to spread doom and gloom to our child but I have seen many children hear sad stories about animals and rather than getting upset, they turn it into an opportunity to help. It shows that our children have empathy and initiative.

Many children, however, don’t know how to help, so brainstorming ways to help together is a great starting point. Letting your child pick the way they would like to help the animal is an important opportunity for them to take ownership of their ideas.

And so started the conversation about helping wombats.  After thinking about ways she could help save wombats, Miss Possum decided she wanted to write a letter. She didn’t understand who she was going to write to, so we had a brief discussion about what a government is and how they might be able to help.  Miss Possum wrote to Tony Burke, Environmental Minister for Australia.

Children helping Animals

Here’s her letter to Tony Burke about saving the wombats.  It might be an innocent little letter from a four year old but if every child wrote a letter, there would be thousands of reasons to save the environment our wildlife lives in.

Childrn helping wildlife

 How to help your child write a letter to the government?

  • Find out your state and or national environment minister and get their address.
  • Ask your child what they want to say to the government before starting to write.
  • Make writing easy for your child by helping them with their letters and words. This isn’t the time to get them frustrated about their writing; you want their thoughts to flow out onto the paper.
  • For older children, ask them questions about what the government should do to save the wildlife habitat in question.
  • Praise them for having the initiative to create change.
  • Think of other ways to help save wildlife.

Why not write a letter yourself and show your child that animals and the environment are important to you too?

Eight Great ways to Appreciate Snakes

Eight Great Ways to Appreciate SnakesIt’s starting to warm up here in Australia and that means that snakes are becoming more active. Don’t all shudder when I say that! I love snakes and believe they are very misunderstood creatures.

We have the top ten most venomous snakes in Australia, and although they all play an important role in the environment, it does mean that there are risks too.  So, as a result, I’ve written two posts on this topic. This post will cover activities that will encourage snake appreciation and the next will cover what you can do to teach your child how to stay snake safe in a fun and snake-friendly way.

Why should we appreciate snakes?

  • Snakes have ecological value. They are silent predators of the world and keep the animal population in balance. Imagine how many rats and mice we would have living in our houses if we didn’t have snakes to keep them under control?
  • They are beautiful. Okay, I know some of you may not agree with me, but take a look at google and type in snake and you’ll see an array of vibrant colours and patterns. Why do you think so many handbags replicate snake skin?!
  • Snakes have helped  and are still helping to create medicines that help people:

-The Brazilian pit viper is one of the deadliest snakes of the jungle, but a blood pressure drug made from a protein in its venom has extended the lives of millions of people.

- More recently, researchers have begun exploring the potential cancer-fighting properties of certain snakes venoms (Animals in Research, cited 2012)

coastal carpet python series

What can you do to help children appreciate snakes?

1.       Get snake crafty

This craft will prepare you for next week when you will learn how to teach your child to stay snake safe. For now though, making a snake can be lots of fun and can help to point out parts of a snake that a child may not know yet.

 animal craftWhat you’ll need:

  • Penne pasta
  •  acrylic paint
  • paint brush
  • 2 x toilet rolls
  • 2 or 3 x pipe cleaners (we reused some from another craft activity)
  •  sticky tape

 How to make it 

Join the pipe cleaners together by twisting the ends.

Paint the pasta and leave it to dry.

pasta craft

Squash the toilet roll and cut out a head. You should get two cardboard heads the same size. Paint the two cardboard head cut-outs.

Once they are dry, use the remaining cardboard from the toilet roll to make a loop that will sit on underside of the head. Attach the cardboard loop and the pipe cleaner to the underside of the head (see image). Place the other cardboard head on top and stick it together with tape.

snake head craft

Once the pasta is dry, thread it onto the pipe cleaner.

Use the other toilet roll to make the tail. Cut it out like this.

Do the same join that you did on the head and attach the pipe cleaner before you roll the tail to make a cone.

Voila! Now you have some very crafty snakes!

 

2.       Learn about snakes through play

 We used our crafty critters to act like snakes and do what snakes like to do best—laze in the sun, hide under debris and eat mice! You could use stuffed toys, rubber snakes or even dress up like a snake yourself. ‘

animal craft kids

3.       Read some great books about snakes

These books are snake friendly books:

 Verdi by Janell Canon – There’s a great review on My little Bookcase regarding this book. Plus, there are some awesome activities to go with it. I know what will be under the tree for Miss Possum this Christmas!

Wonder Why Snakes Shed Their Skin by Amanda O’neill

Snakes by Rachel Griffiths

S-S-snakes by Lucille Recht Pennerby

Hide and Snake by Keith Baker

 4.       Always talk about snakes in a positive light

Many parents don’t realise they are creating a fear in their child just by modelling negative attitudes toward snakes.

 5.       Discuss a snake’s role in the environment.

Why do you think snakes are important? Create a food web or food chain and see what role snakes play with other animals in the environment.

 6.       Ask questions and research snakes.

What would happen if snakes were taken out of the environment? Why do they need the sun to warm up? Why do you think they have scales all over their body? What do you think it would be like to eat something when you have no hands? Do you think it would be funny if we shed our skin all at once?

 7.       Visit these snake websites

  • Snake FactsLearn more about snakes here.
  • Reptile Games aplentyWith lots of snake fun!
  • Online Snake Game(children 8 +) the snake needs to eat a certain number of mice to move to the next level. A word of warning, it’s quite realistic.

 8.       Get Closer

Not to wild snakes of course, but to safe captive snakes. It’s a great sensory thrill to touch a snake. They look wet because of the sheen on their scales but they are dry and they are cold to touch because they are cold-blooded.

snake skin

If your child gets the opportunity to touch a captive and well-handled snake, do it. Don’t push your child if they don’t want to though, it’s natural to be hesitant about touching a snake. Pushing can sometimes worsen a fear.

Remind your child that the snake is safe to touch. Touching the snake yourself can encourage them to give it a go too. Be brave, like Kelly from Be a Fun Mum, she kindly let me use her photos of wild snakes for this post (can you believe I don’t have any!). I had to add the photos of  Kelly and her family holding captive snakes too. !

I’ve been working with captive snakes for 10 years and have never been bitten (yet), so they are very safe and the snakes used are always pythons and have no venom.

Miss Possum held her first snake at just four years old.

Does your child love snakes? What do you do to appreciate animals that have a bad reputation?

Why I Let My Four Year Old See a Dead Sea Turtle

Whata dead animal can teach a child

Nearing World Animal Day, we couldn’t have had a more stunning wildlife experience during our holiday on Moreton Bay. We touched star fish, saw sea birds’ aplenty, fed dolphins, and watched a dugong and a wild turtle up-close. But while out exploring wildlife, we came across a sight that was sad and startling for Miss Possum and I didn’t shield her eyes but instead helped to open them.

Use the experience

While on a four-wheel-drive trek down the beach, we noticed something in the sand. It was a dead sea turtle. We told Miss Possum what it was and I could see the questions in her eyes. I could have pretended we didn’t see it, or glossed over it like it wasn’t a big deal.  But it was a big deal. It’s not a nice sight to see a dead turtle on the beach.

We’d listened to an eco talk  the previous day and had learnt that over 80 turtles wash up dead on that stretch of beach each year because they consumed some kind of rubbish. So, I did what most mums probably wouldn’t do. We stopped the car, got out and took a closer look.

turtle comsumed plastic

Discussing the dead

I asked Miss Possum why she thought the turtle had died. She didn’t know.  I told her that the turtle could have been old and died naturally but it also could have died because it may have eaten rubbish. I explained that our plastic bags look just like jelly fish and so the turtles eat them. I asked her what she thought would happen to a turtle if he ate a plastic bag. She knew he would get very sick or die.

act for wildlife

Initiating the action

Just talking to Miss Possum about the dead sea turtle made her think. She turned to me and said ‘Mummy, we need to pick up rubbish to save the turtles’.  I was so proud that she initiated the action herself, but even if she hadn’t, I probably would have helped her toward that conclusion with prompting questions.

So we started to pick up rubbish. Miss Possum would shout ‘Rubbish!’ and we’d all have to go and collect it. We ended up with a big bag filled with bottles, netting and plastic bags.

Children can turn something negative into a positive quite easily. Each parent needs to make their own decisions based on what they think their child can handle, but I believe that it’s important we don’t hide the truth from children, that we are honest whilst still being sensitive to the child’s feelings.

I’m so glad we stopped the car. The scene may not have been very pleasant but it ended with Miss Possum learning empathy, compassion and creating change to save other turtles from the same fate. It has also lasted longer than the holiday too. She still points to rubbish and we pick it up.

wildlife quote

 *This post is dedicated to our World Animal Day blog hop and it’s a reminder that we can make a difference and we can encourage our children to make a difference too.

Who else is celebrating World Animal Day?

Help celebrate World Animal Day by linking up your animal activities below.

 

To Feed or Not to Feed, That is the Question

Should you Feed Wildlife?

The other day I received this comment on my duck food post:

‘Except in the case of extreme environmental disruptions, don’t feed wild animals. They don’t need the food. Stop feeding the ducks and other water birds, and watch them up close as they feed on insects and grasses on the margin of a pond, lagoon, canal, etc.’

At first I felt terribly guilty because the person writing the comment is, in my opinion, in the right. I do believe the best solution for wildlife is not to feed them at all and to admire them in their natural environment.

I thought about it some more.

Can we expect people to never feed wildlife? Should I be preaching the don’t feed wildlife under any circumstances message?  Is feeding wildlife really that bad? What kind of life would it be if our children weren’t allowed to interact and feed wild animals? I started to think of the arguments for and against feeding wildlife.

To not feed 

  • Interact without feeding.  There are ways to interact with wildlife without using food. You can create a garden full of natural foods for wildlife so as to encourage them into your yard and watch them forage naturally. You can spend time searching for or watching wildlife in your backyard or community. You can visit your local zoo, which allows you to connect with animals that have been conditioned to be fed and touched by people.
  • Is feeding wildlife that bad? If not fed the right way, you could be causing more harm than good. Examples include overfeeding animals to the point where they forget to forage naturally or feeding  food that isn’t good for them and doesn’t give them the necessary vitamins and minerals they require in their diet. Sometimes feeding animals can cause negative interactions with humans. Think of the dingo and even kangaroo attacks that have occurred from wild animals expecting food off of us.

To feed wildlife:

  • Can we expect people to never feed wildlife? Many people, who are passionate about saving wildlife, are just as guilty for having fed ducks and other wild animals when they were young. They may still do it. It is this interaction and the connection they receive with the animal that drives their passion and encourages them to act for wildlife. 
  • To preach or not to preach. Preaching to people may not stop them from feeding wild animals. We can, however educate them about the best way to feed and interact with wildlife (see below for examples).
  •  Connecting children and nature. There is a school of thought that believes it is vital, both to the wellbeing of our children and to raising the conservationists of the future, that children interact with nature. For more information check out The Nature Principle by Richard Louv http://richardlouv.com

It’s up to you

As you can see, I don’t have a definitive answer. There are plenty of reasons both for and against feeding wildlife and I think both have worthy arguments. We all want to do what’s best for wildlife. As parents, teachers and environmental educators, it is up to you to make your own decisions on this topic.

If you decide that you don’t need to feed wildlife to get that connection with them, that’s great. But if you decide feeding wildlife is okay you should:

  • Ensure you and your children are going to be safe while feeding the wild animal
  • Ask yourself if this could cause a problem for the animal or for the safety of your family in future
  • Feed them food that would be similar to their natural diet
  •  Ensure you only feed them a small amount on an irregular basis so they still retain the skills to forage

In regards to the duck food, in my opinion, the benefits of taking a child to feed a small amount of this relatively healthy recipe on an occasional basis is more beneficial to the child and to the future of conservation than it is detrimental to the ducks in question. Wildlife Fun 4 Kids aims to give parents a list of activities to encourage them to share nature with their children.  I decided I couldn’t tell people to not feed the ducks but I knew I could provide a better option than bread, so I posted it.

So, what do you think? Should I preaching the do not feed wildlife message or should I be leaving it up to you guys to make your (now more educated) decision?