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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

One Farmer’s Efforts to Connect Kids with Nature

In an increasingly digitized world, conservationists worry that a new generation of joystick-wielding, video-watching mouse clickers will become too disconnected from nature to care for it.

"This generation has lost its roots in nature. They don't feel a part of it," said Dick Jensen, an Elgin farmer and environmental missionary who is investing his time and money to reverse the trend.

Apart from the harm sedentary children do to their own physical and mental health, Jensen, 70, and other conservationists worry that people who don't wade in streams will not appreciate the value of clean water, that people who don't watch or hunt wildlife will be less likely to support critical habitat.

But perhaps worst of all, people who withdraw from nature deprive themselves of the peace and joy that come from living in harmony with their environment, said Jensen, who often uses the word "baptized" in discussing the introduction of a child to the wonders of nature.

"To me, it has a spiritual and emotional aspect. When properly understood and appreciated, nature should feed the human heart," Jensen said.

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