As David Sobel pointed out, not one environmentalist became an environmentalist because they heard about deforestation, or poaching, or pollution in drinking water, or endangered ecosystems. They became environmentalists because they had a strong connection to the outdoors in their childhood; I know I did!
I came to care about the natural word not because I heard of scary environmental happenings, but because I learned to love the outdoors at an early age. I loved hiking in my backyard and sledding down the hill. I loved riding my grandpa’s ATV through the trails in his woods and tapping maple syrup out of his maple trees. Then I loved identifying different birds and trees as I got older, and my biology class in high school, not in elementary school. That really taught me to heighten my awareness of the natural world. It solidified my love and need to help protect the environment and to influence others to understand the flora and fauna sooner in their life.
Let the children play and learn while they can, especially in the outdoors, because soon enough, they will also learn that not everything is OK in our natural world. Some of this time, we can fill an elementary need for understanding in nature when we fish and when we hunt. People learn about catch and release, management of wildlife populations that need an organized plan, license dollars support research funding – all this is very important to the complete understanding of harvest, not over-harvest. This manner of benefit is an ancient indigenous manner that preserves survival of human life, human health, we also grow wisdom of conservation. This must also be understood and fortified for all generations.