With rising attendance at our national parks, the principles of Leave No Trace are becoming more and more important. There is a great emphasis in the outdoor community on protecting our parks and finding ways to help nature flourish where we can enjoy it. Fourth and fifth graders are in a fantastic learning window. They’re encouraged to visit the parks and soak up all they have to offer. Liberty Mountain hopes that an emphasis on leaving no trace during their visit will contribute to kids' discovery experience. If fourth and fifth graders were able to hone their ability to notice the impact they make, they may learn to notice everything else around them as well. Learning to spot a wrapper in a bush isn’t that different from observing a bird's nest in a tree. Searching the ground for a missing tent stake isn’t that far off from following a trail of ants to their home.
There is so much to observe in our national parks and there are many parks with differences between them. Observing these differences can spark curiosity. What is it about these lands that allows plants to grow despite an apparent lack of water? Why do these trees disappear as we climb down the trail? What if your fourth grader heard a story about one of the plants you discover together being used in a medicine and that experience starts them on a path to a career in medicine?
It is very important for us to enjoy our world and all it has to offer. After all, everything that exists on our planet was once in the ground. The roots of every occupation trace back to a mineral from the earth. Every block of society relies on our planet. Our national parks have been set up as a place to protect these parts of our world so that we can recreate and educate ourselves. Let’s do so responsibly by committing to Leave No Trace and protect our parks for as long as we can so that our fourth graders can enjoy the same places that we did.