“Hey, come outside – I have something amazing to show you.” How many times did I hear that growing up?! On a regular basis my father would coax us away from our mundane indoor tasks and escort us outdoors in search of backyard plants, animals or insects. His pattern was always the same. He wanted to show us something but would never tell you what it was or where he was taking us until we were staring at it face to face. Growing up near a swamp in Central Florida, this could mean a short visit to see one of his newly bloomed orchids or a foray by canoe to observe an alligator nest. This was a normal habit for a dad-naturalist, but my father’s entrance into the world of nature studies was anything but normal.
As the son of Puerto Rican immigrants, my father grew up in New York City. And although many summers were spent visiting family in the Caribbean, his true island life was in the concrete world of the Big Apple. I don’t know what initially drew him into passionate exploration of the natural world, but I do know that as image bearers of Christ, we are all uniquely tied to the rest of God’s creation. It doesn’t matter if you are a city kid or born on a farm, the wilds of the natural world call to us. But do we listen?
Charlotte Mason once stated, “We are all meant to be naturalist, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these.”
We don’t have to be famous scientists to claim the title of naturalist. We are all capable of actively and respectfully learning through the marvels of the untamed. At Arborbrook we strongly abide by Mason’s educational philosophy of integrating outdoor experiences across the curriculum. And as Nature Studies Teacher, the greatest part of my day is when I get to walk in the shoes of both my earthly and heavenly father and tell my students, “Hey, come outside – I have something amazing to show you.”
Nature Studies Teacher