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The Badge of Honor

2012 May 2

By Cameron Davis

I know phrases like “we need to save the Great Lakes for the next generation” are so often uttered that it can risk becoming a biological bromide (as opposed to a chemical one)…it can become as worn as an old pair of shoes.

In the waning days of Earth Month, I had the chance to help the great staff of the National Park Service coach kids from kindergarten through 8th grade as part of the Great Lakes Junior Park Ranger Program at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Supported by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, with leadership from pros like NPS’s Carmen Chapin, Marcus Key, Phyllis Ellin and Wendy Smith, the program teaches future leaders the importance of native ecosystems using Adopt-a-Beach® and other initiatives. After completing the program, participants get a shiny new Great Lakes Junior Badge. Said one up-and-comer: he loved the Junior Park Ranger Program and helping to save Lake Michigan “because we need to drink water.” Kind of hard to argue with that.

If the Great Lakes Junior Ranger program was any indication, yes, we need to save the Great Lakes for them. But, from what I saw, they’re starting to save the Lakes for themselves. Maybe we need to just get out of their way.

About the author: Cameron Davis is Senior Advisor to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. He provides counsel on Great Lakes matters, including the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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7 Responses leave one →
  1. Arman.- permalink
    May 2, 2012


    Educational Job. Good luck….!!!

  2. May 2, 2012

    Precisely, Cameron. We engage youth in art and essay programs … they know the problems; they know the solutions; and, unlike most of us, have the courage to speak on the matter.

    James Ehlers

    Executive Director
    Lake Champlain International

  3. May 3, 2012

    The Good Force be with you!

    Yes, we need to teach our kids to protect the environment because they are inheritors of the earth. After all, it is their home that we are protecting.

    Live forever and prosper!

  4. May 4, 2012

    Hello Cameron,

    It is great work you are doing educating the youth and getting them to take a proactive stance on the lakes and environment issues in general. On a smaller scale we try the best we can to instil a sense of ownership of the environment in our children and it is working.

    About a week ago I was walking with my 5 year old and he spotted a bag of garbage that someone threw in a creek and said to me “Daddy can you go get that and put it in the bin, it might hurt the fish”

    I felt so proud I did wade out into the creek and collected someones garbage and put it in a garbage container. It is nice to see him taking an initiative like that and hopefully when he grows up he will continue to think about the environment and even the little things he can do to help.

  5. Betty Wilkins permalink
    June 7, 2012

    I hope to follow the activities of the Great Lakes restoration Initiative and the Board which will be established. I wish to know how and where nominations to the Board may be submitted.

  6. Betty Wilkins permalink
    June 7, 2012

    EDUCATION is the key. As pointed out in the other posts children are ready and willing to be taught that the lakes are something to take pride in.

  7. Home Remedies For Herpes permalink
    March 17, 2013

    yes, the children is our future generation. i agree with you, that not only adult that have responsibilities to save their future, but they do too. we must embed them that their future is in their hand too, it can build responsibilities in them to more appreciative about environment.

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