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Letter: The importance of nature education

Posted: February 25, 2014 - 1:01am

The Juneau Empire’s Feb. 19 editorial, “Embrace the outdoors in local education,” was insightful and timely.

Insightful, because the sciences come alive when we explore them though the natural world. In nature, we learn about relationships. We come to understand ourselves, our surroundings, and our place in this world. Like nowhere else, here in Juneau we come to know an amazing and stunning landscape that is home for our community.

Timely, because this year marks the 25th anniversary of Discovery Southeast — Juneau’s own home-grown nature education organization. Since its inception, Discovery Southeast has guided thousands of Juneau elementary school students to deeper discoveries about the natural and cultural history in their own backyards.

Along with lifelong interests and the deep sense of wonder and relevance that students experience through the lens of nature studies, students become better observers, thinkers and problem solvers, too. Many Discovery Southeast students have gone on to careers shaped by their initial forays into nature with Discovery Southeast’s knowledgeable and dedicated naturalists. Ask any student who attended Juneau’s schools since 1989, and they will likely tell you stories of their adventures discovering nature — and their place in it — with Discovery Southeast.

At Discovery Southeast, we are proud of our work, vision and passion for engaging students in nature studies over the past 25 years. We are even more excited as we make plans for our next 25 years, and we are especially pleased that the Juneau Empire recognizes the importance and relevance of nature education, too. Here’s to a strong future of place-based, hands-on nature education for Juneau!

Shawn Eisele

Executive director, Discovery Southeast

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