Last week we pointed out some awesome leaders who have been engaging the youth in their community to help with Garlic Mustard pulls. If your child has positive outdoor experiences early on, the memories can stay with them for a lifetime. Not only can you have fun, but you can also instill the values of true stewardship and working with others.
But before you gear up for a weekend adventure or garlic mustard pull, consider the following:
Take a few moments on walks or while driving to point out natural areas/features around you. Share the names of areas or things they can look forward to seeing there. Passion can be infectious if you take the time to share.
If possible, allow your kids to participate in the decision-making process of where to go. Show them a map and outline a goal or viewpoint each option offers. Choosing a new adventure can create a whole new level of excitement.
Don’t expect kids to have fun at an activity where they have to sit and watch. Garlic Mustard is one of the easiest plants to pull out, and can be a great way to introduce the idea of community service while engaging them physically.
Share your knowledge about the flora and fauna you encounter while in the field. Animals are always exciting to spot, and you may be surprised at how much you actually know about the organisms around you. (You can start with identifying Garlic Mustard by the Garlicky smell produced when you crush the leaves.) If you’re not sure what something is, look it up on a smartphone or in a book. The point is to create curiosity and encourage exploration.
Make sure your kids are wearing appropriate clothing. This means comfy shoes, layers of clothing, and sun protection. Blisters or a sunburn are easy ways to ruin an otherwise fun afternoon.
Go ahead and register for a garlic mustard pull near you. If your little ones are too young to understand the ecological concepts behind pulling Garlic Mustard, show them the weekly graphs on this blog and explain our competition. You may just be surprised by how much fun you can have out in the field together.