Greenspace — The Cambria Land Trust is starting its 30th anniversary year with best-selling author Catherine Ryan Hyde speaking on “Children, Hope and Nature.” She and local early childhood educator Sue Davis will discuss the importance of nature in all our lives, from cradle to grave, at the Cambria Veterans Memorial Building, 3 p.m. Sunday Feb. 25.
Ryan Hyde soared to national recognition in 1999 with her novel, “Pay It Forward,” a phrase which entered everyday language to remind us always to share goodwill. The novel was made into an award-winning movie. Since then, she has written 35 more novels and sold millions of books around the world. Her fans love her books for their warmth and inspiration.
She established the Pay It Forward Foundation the year after the book was published, “as a catalyst to inspire growth for the Pay It Forward philosophy, acts of kindness among strangers, generating a ripple effect from one person to the next, one community to the next.” It’s a 501c3 organization that accepts donations from individuals and groups.
The foundation’s website features stories of kind acts to people, animals and the planet. The stream of good works inspires her as well as her fans.
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“After many years of speaking with students of all ages on behalf of the Pay It Forward Foundation, I found they are different than frequently characterized,” she said. “They care deeply about how we treat each other, and how we treat the planet, and are full of hope for their future. One only needs to listen to feel that hope.”
Bring questions for her, to participate in a relaxed discussion. She’ll tell about the real-world hope and optimism that flowed her way after Pay It Forward was published and became a movie. Both feature a teacher and his students.
“I want to talk about how much kids were involved in changing my ideas about human nature,” she said.
She credits nature with inspiring her writing.
“My own work evolved beyond that book, with the natural world as my muse,” she said. “In many cases, nature became an important ‘character’ in the story.”
Crocker, Davis to appear
Former County Superintendent of Schools Julian Crocker, who retired from the post after 16 years in 2014, will emcee the event. He is revered as a Southern gentleman with unwavering patience, and for his commitment to youth.
Speaker Sue Davis has been playing outdoors with little kids as an early childhood educator for 45 years. She developed natural outdoor play spaces for schools as part of the Outdoor Classroom Project. She spends plenty of time outside, hiking, kayaking and backpacking.
Her goal is to inspire a deeper nature connection in children and adults. Richard Louv’s book, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder,” resonated with her love of nature.
Research supports the fact that children and adults benefit from time spent out in nature. The benefits are physical and emotional. Society benefits from healthier, happier individuals.
“Awakening and strengthening this connection with nature allows us to live life to our full potential,” she said.
One Greenspace education program, funded by a grant from the Harold J. Miossi Charitable Trust, takes nature education into Santa Lucia Middle School classes. The students trek out into Strawberry Canyon, one of Greenspace’s protected sites, for Environmental Education Field Days.
The students explore the pine life cycle, the forest’s complex ecosystem, and the threat of invasive plants and pathogens. They learn about the uses of dendrochronology, tree-ring dating, and test the reserve’s soil chemistry. They sketch what they see and spend time in silence, absorbing birds’ calls, squirrel chatter, the sound of a lizard crossing dry leaves. Each plants a Monterey pine seedling to restore the forest.
A $10 donation is requested, but all are welcome — especially families and kids.
Christine Heinrichs has served on the Greenspace Board of Directors since 2014.