Environmentalist Role Models

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

On a brisk fall morning, I attended an event at my youngest daughter’s Montessori school. The Harvest Parade is a yearly event in which all the children at the school participate in a ceremony dressed in costumes representing countries or historic figures. The parade serves as an opportunity not only to teach the children about different cultures and individuals who have contributed to mankind, but to hone their skills in research and public speaking.

It was heartwarming to see these children walk to the stage and talk about presidents, kings, queens, scientists, artists, and athletes. The older children had to deliver 3- 5-minute long speeches about these historic figures and explain why they found them inspirational. What struck me this year was that fact that several children had selected famous environmentalists as the historical figures they wanted to portray: the founder of the modern environmentalist movement Rachel Carlson, the founder of The Wilderness Society Aldo Leopold, the leader of the soil conservation movement Hugh Hammond Bennett, and even President Theodore Roosevelt for his conservation efforts, to name a few.  I was proud to see these children identify these environmentalists as their role models.

There are many unsung heroes here at EPA and in our communities who make environmental protection part of their daily lives. They are role models for us all. We should encourage our children at home and in the community to conserve water, recycle, and protect our environment.

I think that’s one of the things that attracted me to Montessori education. The philosophy of Maria Montessori gives free rein to the child’s innate imagination. It also instills in students at an early age underlying values such as respect for oneself, all humanity, and the environment. I think the world would be a better place if we shared those views.