Teaching Kids Respect Wildlife

Laredo, TX: As Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers we teach Leave No Trace to thousands of kids all throughout the country at schools and in camps. Teaching kids the importance of staying a safe distance from wildlife and why we shouldn’t let animals eat our food is always well received by students. We have a couple of effective methods on how to teach kids the Respect Wildlife principle.

Impacts Vs. Wildlife

Set-up:

You will need a field or a gymnasium to facilitate this activity. The only materials you will need will be two long ropes (50 feet) to make end zones. Place a rope at each end of the field about 30 yards apart.

The Activity:

Select one participant to start being “it”.  The rest of the participants line up shoulder to shoulder on one of the “end zones”.  Each of the participants will choose a native wild animal that they want to be.  The person who is “it” is assigned an impact that harms wildlife (see below).  When the person who is “it” is ready they yell go!  The native wildlife then tries to get to the other “end zone” without getting tagged.  If a participant is tagged then they join the impact.  For example: The impact tags three animals in the first round and then in the second round there are four impacts. Eventually all the animals will be tagged and on the side of the original impact and another round can start.

Example Impacts:

·      Feeding wildlife

·      Too close to wildlife

·      Did not store food properly

·      Dog off the leash

·      Making Loud Noises

Wrap-Up:

Ask the participants why it is important to Respect Wildlife and ask if they can think of any other ways to follow the principle.  Express when there are more impacts it is harder for wildlife to live.  Use the activity to illustrate to the students that when there are lots of impacts in an area, it is difficult for wildlife to thrive in that area.

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Give Wildlife a Thumbs Up

Giving wildlife a thumbs up is a simple and quick way for a kid to determine whether or not they are too close to wildlife.

Here is how you give Wildlife a Thumbs Up:

1.     Stick your arm out completely straight out in front of you.

2.     Put up your thumb and close one eye.

3.     Look down your arm and try and cover up the animal with your thumb.

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If you can cover up the animal with your thumb you are a safe distance from it, if you cannot, back up and give it some space. 

Thanks for reading and remember to be like the Center’s mascot Bigfoot and Leave No Trace.

Pat and TJ - Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer West Central Team

Leave No Trace’s Patrick and Theresa Beezley are part of the 2015 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, Deuter, Hi-Cone, REI, Smartwool, The North Face, and Yakima.