Monday, September 20, 2010

Road Wisdom: Lighting a Fire

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."

-William Butler Yeats

While traveling and teaching, we have the opportunity to work with an incredibly diverse range of audiences. From youth-serving organizations like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, to Ivy League campuses and from federal land management agencies, to non-profits and guide services, we always teach using the framework of the Seven Leave No Trace principles as guidelines for responsible decision-making while recreating outdoors.

Sounds pretty simple so far, right?

The reality is that each presentation is altogether unique because each audience is different, and each individual in every audience brings a different background and perspective to what it means to recreate responsibly. This is where we, as Traveling Trainers, approach our task from a simple but convincing perspective expressed so eloquently by William Butler Yeats: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire”.

Audiences always want to know what the “rules” of the program are so they can acquire and adhere to the parameters of the Leave No Trace program. However, there are none to offer, and this is where the “not the filling of a pail” part of our approach comes in to play. The Seven Leave No Trace principles are intended to be a set of guidelines to consider while enjoying outdoor recreation rather than a step-by-step set of directions for personal conduct.

So how do we inspire outdoor recreationists without pedantic rants and emotive appeals to preserve the quality of the natural environment and experiences for future generations of outdoor enthusiasts?

That is the true crux of our work and we attempt to approach it with creativity and passion to allow us to connect with each audience. Personalizing the program to each outdoor enthusiast is a matter of discovering how that person enjoys the outdoors and making the connection with them between the Leave No Trace principles and their experiences in nature.

One of the keys to our approach is emphasizing that our past actions are behind us and our work is to consider how we can Leave No Trace in the future. We focus proactively on the individual as the answer to protecting natural lands from recreational impacts and not on limiting access to the places we all enjoy so much. By approaching our presentations and trainings with “the lighting of a fire” in mind, we hope to provide enough information rooted in scientific studies and common sense so that each individual is equipped to make the best choices with whatever scenario they are faced with while recreating outdoors.

All the best,

Agata and Jason

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is great. I would like to read some examples of how you personalize the teaching.