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Environmental Empowerment: How Nature Inspires Us

"Education is not preparation for life, it is life itself,” said Jeanne Tribble, my adventurous and progressive fourth-grade teacher, as we traversed the Lassen Peak Trail. My teacher would point out the white bark pines, the rocky ridges and the open vistas. She taught our class that parks are places to see wildlife, breathe in the fresh air and experience the wild solitude of nature. The Lassen Peak Trail first introduced me to the wonders of hiking and taught me just how far my own two feet can take me. Without outdoor education, I would have never understood my role in taking care of the environment. This love of learning in outdoor spaces sparked my own environmental empowerment and eventually led me to the Parks Foundation in July of 2020.

"Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." - Melody Beattie

As I look back on my journey to adulthood, there are many lessons my fourth-grade teacher passed on to me, but one of the most important lessons is one of gratitude. Gratitude for our parks that bring generations together, gratitude for what is natural and wholesome around us, and gratitude for parks that revitalize underserved communities; ultimately, turning our surroundings into vibrant and rejuvenating destinations.

Research from Harvard Medical School explains that “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.” Practicing gratitude can improve your overall health and strengthen your relationships. The research then emphasizes how: “…Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack.”

Here are four ideas to help you and your loved ones develop a mindset of gratitude in your local parks and the benefits of doing so:

As the field-trip ended and we made our way back down the trail, I remember thinking, “What a great day!” A day where I was completely inspired and my sense of adventure was ignited. I could not deny the influence my first trail had on me. Now, as a young adult, visiting parks and open spaces have become a recurring pastime. Parks act as my own creative canvas, a motivating force that I enjoy sharing with others. I can confidently say that being in nature, practicing mindfulness and giving back to the community are all traits that have made me who I am today.


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