I just read a thought provoking post over at The Countryside Round blog of Casey Harn (who some of you may remember from Wandering Owl Outside fame). Mr Harn's post raises an interesting question that I've rehashed a thousand times in different ways while getting my degrees in Conservation Social Science and Wilderness Management. What is the best way to protect a resource? Close it off from the public, or open it up and educate the public?
As an environmental educator and blogger I feel some of the same struggles when doing my job, or writing for this blog. As a naturalist I am supposed to tell children to stay on the trails, don't pick flowers, and leave the acorns, rock, leaves on the ground but I just can't do it. Which does more harm to the resource? Protecting it from the children? Or fostering a curiosity about the resource by telling them to get off the trails, pick the flowers, take home the rocks, acorns and leaves.
I lean toward the former being more harmful in the long run because of how I was raised. I am passionate about the outdoors because I was allowed (or rather encouraged) to fully explore the fields, streams, and woodlands and to immerse myself in nature.
Am I doing the wrong thing? I know what I think. I want to hear from you... (and be sure to let Mr. Harn know your thoughts at The Countryside Round too!)