Outdoor Activities Can Lead to a Lifetime of Appreciation

Nature Academy

Your everyday interactions with those around you can have a lifelong impact. I have early childhood memories that I now realize helped shape who I am today. I can remember when my school principal shared a paw paw fruit with my kindergarten class. Our elementary school was also visited by a naturalist who showed us different kinds of leaves and slugs. My grandmother would take me to our local parks to hike. I remember fishing as a child with my dad and brother at my uncle’s pond surrounded by woods. As I grew older, I explored in the woods with friends from my neighborhood. Little did I know the lasting impact these simple activities would have.

By the time a teacher first asked me, “What do you want to do when you graduate high school?” I knew I wanted to be involved with conservation and teaching others about the world around us. I joined my school’s science club, started volunteering at my local park system and made preparations to further my nature education through Hocking College’s Interpretive Program.

Now, as an adult working for Great Parks of Hamilton County, I get to pass on those experiences and appreciation of nature to the next generation. I have taken my nephew fishing at Campbell Lakes Preserve, where we have caught some interesting species, such as long-nosed gar and freshwater drum, due to the close proximity of the Whitewater River. I take my son fishing at Lake Isabella where he loves to outfish his dad. We get caught up in the rumors of the fabled mythological creature, The Loveland Frog, that float from the playground there. My wife and I were also married at Lake Isabella, where family and friends from across the country came to help us celebrate.

I jump at any chance to take park visitors, co-workers, family and friends on a nature hike. Identifying a plant, telling someone the rich history of a wildflower that they thought was just a weed or pointing out funny bird songs (such as the eastern towhee’s “drink your tea-ea-ea-ea-ea”) can really stick with someone. Setting a good example, such as picking up litter, can also make a lasting impact.

As a Great Parks employee, I have had the opportunity to teach others about nature as a Naturalist and now I get to put conservation into practice and promote biodiversity working in the Stewardship department. So remember, the daily activities you share with those around you can help shape the next generation’s appreciation of nature.

Doug in his Naturalist days at Sharon Woods

Doug in his Naturalist days at Sharon Woods

Doug Stevenson, Stewardship Technician