Wildflower is published quarterly by the Wildflower Center. Its content is national in scope with articles about the conservation and use of native plants as well as news from the Wildflower Center. A subscription is provided to Wildflower Center members as a benefit of membership.
Letter from the Director - Summer 2005Throughout my career in conservation, I've found that nearly all of my professional colleagues, as well as the concerned landowners, gardeners, volunteers, scientists, and others with whom I've worked, share an important experience. At an early age, they were introduced, usually by a parent or other relative, to the power and wonder of nature, and that experience helped create their love and life-long sense of stewardship for our environment.
As I write this, it is spring - a time of rejuvenation and renewal; it is also a time when we recall the experiences in our own childhoods that taught us to love nature. At the Wildflower Center's 280-acre site, we are working to providing an extraordinary place for families to create their own unique connections with the natural world, especially with our native plants and wildflowers. Our approach is simple - we want future generations to love nature as we do, and we believe our best contribution to this is to provide high-quality, age-appropriate activities and materials that are geared toward hands-on learning and guaranteeing that kids will have a great time in the outdoors.
We've witnessed many priceless moments this spring. Hundreds of children have excitedly collected their prizes for completing a self-guided hunt for facts about lady bugs ... lady birds, as they are called in Australia. For the last three months, the Children's Little House, our special place for discovery learning, has been a hive of curiosity and energy. With help from our enthusiastic staff and volunteers, children gather around the insect microscope station, explore the hidden world of plant roots, dig in the garden, and watch real ladybugs eating aphids. Older children who are ready for a little challenge have been excitedly roaming the gardens and nature trails, aided by education tools such as discovery backpacks, scavenger hunts, and self-guided tours. We've also seen the value of direct outdoor education by watching the faces of the students who visit the Wildflower Center on field trips guided by our Exploring the Native Plant World curriculum. Whether it's a group exploring our cave to learn about the Edwards aquifer or a 3rd grade class carrying clipboards on a field study trip, these young people are benefiting immeasurably and supplementing their classroom education by experiencing the wonders of the Texas Hill Country firsthand.
More then 10,000 children visit the Wildflower Center each year. We hope that each one leaves with a greater appreciation, understanding, and personal connection with the natural world. Witnessing the wonder in a young child's eyes as she watches a bee land on a beautiful wildflower, gathering pollen and nectar with purpose and determination, reminds us that we do indeed love what we understand, and we protect what we love. Helping children understand the importance of pollination and that each flower is perfectly evolved for its specific pollinators can forge a lifelong connection to the natural world and sense of responsibility for it.
I encourage you to take a child outside today and introduce them to the beauty and elegance of the native flora and fauna of your own region. Sharing your knowledge and passion for the natural world will help inspire the next generation to conserve and protect the native plants and landscapes we all love.