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Little People, Big Dreams

2012 June 19

By Tom Murray

I recently attended the pre-kindergarten graduation ceremony for my five-year old granddaughter. It was something to behold as she and a dozen or so of her friends assembled together in blue caps and gowns to receive their diplomas and the well wishes of their teachers as they move on to kindergarten. Too cute! As Moms and Dads smiled and recorded every moment of the event on their I-phones, I found myself pondering. (It is okay for grandfathers to ponder at these events. The kids think we are asleep or day dreaming and that is okay. For parents it is called inattentiveness and the little ones frown on that.) Anyway, as I looked at these little people swimming in their gowns with their mortar boards sliding down the sides of their heads, I found myself reflecting back on what we have done to make this planet a better place for these young people. Working as long as I have at EPA, I am allowed to ponder things like that.

As I watched each youngster walk over to receive a diploma, I wondered what their little minds must be thinking when they hear their parents talking about global warming, habitat loss or the global threat of disease. As they grow older and with information traveling faster than ever before, will they become so overloaded with unfiltered environmental information that they will become apathetic, seeking solace instead in video games and simple pleasures. How will they react?

I am a representative of a generation that grew up in the fifties and sixties when we were struggling with egg shell thinning, Love Canal, Times Beach and rivers catching fire due to heavy industrial pollution. We faced those problems head-on and never looked back as we continue today to wrestle with some very stubborn environmental problems. Will these children have the same drive, the same perseverance?

After the last child was announced, I glanced through the memory book that each child was given. You remember them. They have a picture of each student with a sentence describing his or her prominent personality trait. At the end of each, we find an oft asked question of young people, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Among the responses were the usual suspects: teachers, firefighters, rock stars (that from my granddaughter). But there was one that caught my eye. “I want to take care of Mother Earth”, the note said. I smiled at this one and thought, “We’ll keep the porch light on for you, little one.”

About the author: Tom Murray joined EPA way back in 1971 and has never lost the passion for pollution prevention and helping manufacturers become more sustainable.

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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12 Responses leave one →
  1. Lina-EPA permalink
    June 19, 2012

    Loved your post! Yes, my youngest also would like to be a rock star, although I’ve been trying to convince her that a scientific profession should be her profession of choice. You’ll be surprised that kids seem to be much more environmentally conscious than we give them credit. I remember a blog I wrote several years back: There is hope.

  2. June 19, 2012

    your matter is very very nice and important for peoples, congratulation about on…

  3. Edgardo Berraz permalink
    June 19, 2012

    It’s really wunder than one girl,having her only five years old,could have already a so much spectacular point of view by refering wish for looking forward in the future if she could take care of the Mother Earth.And this demostrate who predicate over this thema,isn’t to predicate in the desert.Congratulations for all the children that so think.

  4. Jay Cwanek permalink
    June 19, 2012

    The concern about kids getting “unfiltered environmental information” is a bit odd. We ONLY knew about “egg shell thinning, Love Canal, Times Beach” BECAUSE OF
    “unfiltered environmental information”! Filters are what direct people away from confronting issues ON THEIR OWN.

  5. June 20, 2012

    So True! It’s what I admire about these children, their creativity and imagination and not being afraid to dream really big. We kind of lose that as we get older, I guess it’s about reality hitting us and losing our faith in ourselves or something like that. I do hope we can rediscover this again.

  6. June 21, 2012

    It is amazing to think that those little 5 year old kids will soon be making decisions that effect the world. It is refreshing to hear that even at such a young age these youngsters are thinking about “taking care of mother earth”. There maybe hope for the human race after all. Great post.

  7. June 23, 2012

    When i read this post all i could think about was niece and nephews. I hope to show them how important it is to take care of our environment. Like the previous commenter stated these are little people that will soon be making world decisions. I will do my part to make sure all the children in my life know how important it is to take care of mother earth. nice post.

  8. June 25, 2012

    When I read this I was thinking of my child just finishing first grade. His school participated in my county’s park district education which taught everything from recycling to why a watershed is so important. What this taught me was when you hit people with the facts of how saving a watershed or recycling or saving energy really makes a difference to peoples life’s. People will understand and want to do their part.

  9. August 2, 2012

    What i love when to my children is that about their dream or what they want to be. As an electrician, I want my children to be like me but after reading this post it came to my mind that I would let them decides on what they want to be. Achieving their dreams and be happy to take it.

  10. HostingCouponsCode permalink
    March 2, 2013

    That right, I have two children, we have alot of dream. I often to guide them how to perform

  11. faris ahmed permalink
    October 30, 2013

    wow thats amazing outdoor banner shop

  12. Pete permalink
    January 25, 2014

    Thanks for sharing! I think an eco-awareness is only going to to grow in today’s young citizens of the world. And thank goodness it is, they have a lot to contend with.

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