natural environment

Electronics vs Nature

By Lina Younes

Recently, I went camping with my youngest daughter’s Girl Scouts troop. We went to a camping ground in Maryland. Contrary to nearby Camp Schmidt that has cabins with bunk beds, our camping site was in a wooded area where we had to pitch our own tents.

My daughter was very excited to go on her very first camping trip.  The excitement started during the packing process.  What did we need to take for the trip? These were some of the important issues we needed to address as we got ready. Since we knew that we would be out in tents, a sleeping bag was the first order of business. She was well aware that she needed a flashlight, basic toiletries, etc. Then, she wanted to pack all these portable electronic gadgets and that is where I drew the line. “What if I can’t fall asleep at night? What am I going to do?” It was interesting to see that she hadn’t even thought of the notion of just taking in all the sights and sounds of the night without any electronic gadgets. Are our children so disconnected from nature that they cannot even think of enjoying natural surroundings without a hand-held device?

We were very fortunate to have great weather.  A little brisk in the evening, but it was nice. The camping trip was a great success. The girls had a lot of fun exploring the area, sitting around the campfire, roasting marshmallows and the like. Some of the girls were slightly apprehensive of the thought that we might encounter some scary wildlife in the woods at night.  They were expecting to see some bears or wolves.  The scariest creatures we saw were a few birds, frogs, and plenty of daddy long legs.

When we woke up early morning, some of the girls were surprised to discover the moisture out of the tent. “Why is the ground wet if it didn’t rain?” “Morning dew, honey.”  That was a great opportunity to teach the children about the natural environment. Now, I’m not sure who is more excited about the next camping trip–my daughter or me.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as the Multilingual Communications Liaison. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

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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The 12 Square Feet Classroom

Late summer has become my favorite time of year because of my small 4 x 3 foot backyard garden. This year, I harvested patty pan squash, hot peppers, and three kinds of tomatoes. There is no competition for me when it comes to my own homegrown foods versus the store varieties. It takes some effort o maintain this garden but it is worth it for me.

My garden planning starts in May. Each year the biology department at my school sells tiny little seedlings that are grown in the greenhouse over the winter. The weather in Chicago doesn’t allow me to plant these seedlings outside for another month, so I find a sunny window, water the seeds, and wait. Come June, I get a bag of mushroom compost and plant my little garden. I watch and wait throughout June, July, and the beginning of August…and then finally it’s time! The tomatoes turn red and the squash turn yellow and I get the pleasure of the harvest.

This backyard garden makes me feel like a kid. I experiment with the plants to find out what species work in my garden. I investigate different types of soil to use. I check in on the garden each day, to watch the plants grow, then flower, and finally produce fruit. It is my outdoor classroom, a place where I feel empowered. My garden keeps me engaged all summer long and allows me to combine my indoor computer research with learning in an outdoor classroom.

The backyard garden doesn’t just benefit me…my backyard garden, no matter how large or how small, teaches my family responsibility, discipline, and patience. It provides me a sense of accomplishment and independence. Finally, it teaches me about the natural environment…even it is only on 12 square feet of land.

About the author: Erin Jones is an Intern at EPA Region 5 in Chicago, IL

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.


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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.