Thirty years ago, I was a budding environmentalist. I owe a lot of this development to a man named Ken Uyeda, my fourth-grade teacher and the Scarsdale Audubon chapter's president. In Mr. Uyeda's suburban New York classroom, he vividly explained the greenhouse effect (yes, it has been around that long). Mr. Uyeda also introduced a big word, biodegradability, to our vocabulary, holding up a plastic bag and railing against humans for being the only species foolish enough to create something disposable that lasts forever. On nature hikes through the woods behind the school, Mr. Uyeda taught us how to distinguish between male and female cardinals and crouched down to open a jack-in-the-pulpit.

Today, improving education is the number one issue for many Americans, and it is President Bush's top domestic priority. For its part, the Audubon Society is building a vast network of nature centers nationwide to educate and inspire children and their families.

In this issue, Audubon begins regular coverage of environmental education. The magazine will cover the country and Latin America to bring you stories about innovative programs and educators who are instilling the conservation ethic in young people. Jimmy Paz, a charismatic sanctuary manager in Brownsville, Texas, sends children home with ebony seedlings to "plant a little seed" of interest in the area's plants and animals (see "Good Morning, It's a Beautiful Day at Sabal Palm Grove Sanctuary"). Evidently, he's succeeding. Letty Zubieta, one of the many Paz pupils who frequents the sanctuary, likes to draw animals and wants to teach drawing when she grows up. Imagine the futures of all those who have fallen under Jimmy Paz's spell. How many might become teachers, politicians, biologists, or concerned citizens? Perhaps, 30 years from now, one child might even end up working at an environmental magazine.


© 2001  NASI