Animals hold a special place in our hearts – and anyone with children knows this love starts at a young age. Some of our first words are the sounds made by favorite animals. We dream about riding horses through the mountains and swimming with dolphins in the ocean. We spend hours playing with our pets, trying to catch butterflies, studying pond life. Then sadly, many of us lose that wonder and can feel even more disconnected from the natural world when we travel. Here are a few ways to rekindle the love you once had, while nurturing an appreciation for animals with your own children- at home and when you are on the road as a family!
1. Spend time in nature. Whether you are camping, hiking or going to the playground, make sure you get out and spend time being mindful in the fresh air. Go on an urban adventure – when you visit museums and cultural sites, take the long way to them and walk through parks! There is so much for your family to experience by exploring the natural world around you. Learn about local ecosystems and the animals that live there. Appreciate the beauty and wonder of nature, and the importance of keeping the Earth healthy and clean. Teach your children the value of natural spaces and make them stewards for a healthy tomorrow.
2. Make a butterfly garden or wildlife friendly habitat in your yard. This is a great way to teach your children about the animals living around them. What better way to get your kids excited about wildlife than to plant a garden that will attract butterflies and birds to your own yard? By reading about wildlife, planning their garden and getting their hands dirty they will feel a real connection with their project. Show your children how the actions they take in their own backyard can make the planet a better place to live!
3. Clean up the community – for animals! Wherever you are – at home or on a family vacation – make a positive impact on the environment by tidying up wildlife habitats. You can do it as a family or as part of a community event! Check for community, park and beach clean up days in local papers and on Facebook and get involved! This also helps you meet like-minded friends along your journey. Picking up litter at the beach, in parks, and even in the school yard is an easy way to help keep animals safe. Wildlife can get tangled or trapped in our trash, injured by eating garbage or sick from polluted water. By getting involved in a clean-up, your family can make a real difference for the wildlife that share our spaces.
4. Visit local animal groups. Get involved with your local (home or away) animal shelter, rescue group or wildlife center. These organizations need lots of help to provide care for animals. Volunteer to walk dogs, socialize cats or help rehabilitate wildlife. Consider organizing a small fundraising campaign before you go on your trip. A fun way to get your kids ready for travel, think globally and advocate for these community organizations is to hold a fundraiser while you are still at home. Bring the donations along with you after setting up a tour or a day of volunteering. Getting involved nurtures your children’s love for animals and teaches the value of volunteering their time and energy for a cause they love.
5. Help animals while you travel. Instead of your usual family trip, why not make your next vacation an animal adventure? Volunteer with a sea turtle rescue group in Costa Rica! Live with local community members who are supporters of turtle conservation and make connections with local families. Show your family members that it doesn’t take a marine biologist to be a turtle hero – anyone who cares can make a difference. Create some of the sweetest family memories for your family and the Costa Rican family you live with- save sea turtles and become global advocates for animal conservation!
Animal Experience International offers many family-friendly vacations that get you volunteering with animals and learning about local communities. For more information visit www.animalexperienceinternational.com.
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