There’s a new push this year to teach younger children about Southwest Florida in hopes that future generations will take care of the environment.
At Lovers Key State Park, Mary Gallagher hopes her children, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren will enjoy the park.
She believes with mind, body and nature together her great-great-great-grandchildren will know Mother Earth as she has.
“I feel that we have neglected her as the same way that we neglect pieces of ourselves and that we really can repair and heal. I do believe that,” Gallagher said.
Healing the earth can heal our minds.
The American Psychological Association recently identified “eco-anxiety.” It’s a term for the stress and grief many feel about the planet’s future.
But it’s people like Trish Schranck that put some of that anxiety to ease with a little bit of education and excitement.
“I have loved the ocean from a very young age,” said Schranck, a park service specialist at Lovers Key State Park.
She shares her love with everyone.
“Seeing it click in their brains, that’s the best part of it for me, is getting to help them understand why there’s so much here to preserve,” Schranck said.
Schranck said the goal is to turn every day into Earth Day.
Gallagher moved her family down to Southwest Florida from Ohio so they could do that exactly. They traded in the winter coats for year-round boasts of playing in the dirt.
“We have sunflowers started and they just gave us some more seeds today and zinnias, we love the zinnias,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher said she hopes the enjoyment her three kids get from being in the garden continues to grow.
It’s what the Blancheys want for their kids, too. Their son Alec already raises the bar for other kids every day.
“This one right here, he recycles all of our bottles and takes them back to the store and makes sure we take care of the earth,” The Blancheys said. “We just want to leave a better tomorrow for our kids, our future generations.”