Worth going wild about

Published 10:21 am Wednesday, January 9, 2019

When I pull into my street, I often see two or three deer at a time. They’re usually either crossing through nearby yards or standing in place when my headlights come into view. It’s the closest that I get to wildlife, separated by a windshield and four doors.

Area elementary and middle school students will now have the opportunity to get much closer.

This is thanks to Halifax-based Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation, which is rolling out its first major outreach program directed toward youth, visiting nearly 30 elementary and middle schools in nine counties, delivering 90-minute presentations to students ranging from third to eighth grade.

The Foundation is set to pull on the scene of Eureka Elementary School Jan. 16, Bacon District Elementary School Jan. 23 and Phenix Elementary School Jan. 28.

If the name Ward Burton rings bells for NASCAR fans, it’s because he’s had a banner career in stock car racing. He won the Daytona 500 in 2002.

Educator Mike Roberts, who will be putting on the programs, said the goals of the outreach are to instill conservation lessons in public schools, and to show children the importance of caring for the natural resources that we have. As these young people will soon become adults, teaching these lessons sooner rather than later is imperative.

“The program itself (has) a focus on not reconnecting, but connecting young people, children, boys and girls, to the natural environment,” Roberts said. “Unfortunately a lot of children today are not connected. They are totally disconnected from the reality of clean air, pure water, food, shelter and space, and the elements that we have to have to survive.”

It’s not only young people who are disconnected. For those of us who see our wildlife through the windshield, it’s important to support initiatives that advocate for wildlife and land conservation. It’s important to look for opportunities to connect with those who are seeking solutions to this issue.

Roberts, Burton, representatives of the wildlife foundation and everyone at the numerous schools hosting them deserve full kudos for providing this platform for young people to learn about caring and conservation for wildlife.

Emily Hollingsworth is a staff reporter for The Charlotte Gazette and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. Her email address is Emily.Hollingsworth@TheCharlotteGazette.com.