IDEA #34. Go on a whale watch, visit a nature center, or take a hike to observe nature
Like looking at the Moon or a planet through a telescope, seeing a particular creature or even an unusual plant in its native habitat can be awe inspiring. Whether the youngster has the good fortune to see a right whale spouting right beside a whale watch vessel or just sights a carnivorous plant in a marsh, the notion that such things do exist outside of the pages of books—and often surprisingly close to our homes—is a reminder that the natural world, for which humans are obligated to care lest we lose it altogether, is real.
Almost every organization with a focus on nature offers some kinds of viewing experiences. A local science or nature center may sponsor regular events, and branches of the Audubon Society, especially, make a point of making field trips to natural destinations available to youngsters. A whale watch might be far off a family’s beat and budget, but other opportunities will exist in the community. And even if no organization seems to offer what is needed, perhaps a local teacher or scientist could lead a private tour for an interested young person.
It is unfortunate that we must include here a small caveat: There are some unscrupulous operators of nature tours whose practices are scientifically and ethically unsound. They may enter animal habitats in unsuitable vehicles or vessels, or they may go so close to the animals as to disturb their patterns of existence; some even lure animals to be seen using methods that are directly harmful. Any “nature tour” being contemplated should be checked through a local museum or environmental organization.