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.