Skip to Content

Where to Begin?

Where to Begin?

I guess I’ll begin at our first introduction to the Family Nature Summit.

I’m signed up for the e-mail newsletter list of the National Wildlife Foundation. One weekend afternoon in April, I received a call for entries for the Craig Tufts Education Scholarship to the upcoming Family Nature Summit in Tahoe. Entrants needed to be between 8 and 18.

It sounded intriguing at first glance.

Here’s the excerpt I read to my 8 year old:

Craig was everyone’s favorite naturalist. From the moment you met him, you liked what he was thinking and wanted to know more! He was excited about everything living and understood a tremendous amount about the natural world around him, no matter where he was. He could look at an insect under a log and tell you what its name was or what family it was in and what it was related to, what it probably ate for dinner and where it was going to lay its eggs…. It didn’t matter if you were near his home in Northern Virginia or on a mountainside in Colorado, somehow Craig knew and remembered all these details! Being with Craig on a walk was like having a talking field guide beside you, with the words just pouring out. Craig was always happy to point things out to anyone, and was just as excited to see something for the fiftieth time as he was to see it for the first time! Craig worked for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) for 33 years as Chief Naturalist.

Okay, now we were truly INSPIRED!  My 8 year old sounds a lot like Mr. Tufts. My son was up for the challenge of writing (dictating) his first big essay. He was rewarded for his efforts and ideas with runner-up status. In light of his enthusiasm and unable to deny this once-in-a-lifetime experience, my husband and I decided to invest in our whole family attending the Family Nature Summit from July 5th -11th.

Fast forward to today. Every day since we’ve returned, I’ve been thinking about the wonderful people we met and the amazing experiences we enjoyed every day. I’m a little sad that my kids aren’t heading out every morning on an incredible adventure with barely a nod back at Mom and Dad.

In his essay, my son promised to share his experiences as a Junior Naturalist. Here’s his Top Ten list:

  1. Kayaking from Baldwin Beach
  2. Going to the Tahoe Environmental Center and learning about plates and fissures
  3. Seeing Macinaw trout at Fanny Bridge
  4. Making a collage artwork of Emerald Bay
  5. Hiking to Eagle Falls
  6. Getting ice cream at a road stop
  7. Playing camouflage by hiding behind trees and bushes
  8. Playing a tracking game
  9. Water quality studies at the UC Davis Research Center
  10. Throwing an atlatl (Washoe hunting weapon) with an archaeologist

Please read more about the naturalist Craig Tufts and consider donating to the very worthy fund building in his name.

*My son placed as runner-up in the essay contest to attend this Summit for which he was awarded free registration for himself and ONE parent. We paid all travel expenses for the family, plus registration for myself and daughter. In other words, no compensation was received for this post or any of the posts which are sure to follow!

*Junior Naturalist photos courtesy of Family Nature Summits

If you’re interested in reading more,  here’s a link to my first post about our Time Off in Tahoe.

Bridget Smith

Thursday 13th of January 2011

What an unforgettable experience! Wish the next one was closer to home.

Marcie T

Thursday 22nd of July 2010

Congratulations! You must be so proud. Sounds like the whole family had an amazing experience. I may just convince my son to give it a shot next year. :)

Comments are closed.