Appreciation for Nature Begins in Childhood

By Charlie Nardozzi

Many gardeners can trace their love of plants and nature back to childhood memories of gardening with relatives or friends. New research from Washington State University confirms what many gardeners have thought all along: kids who are exposed to gardening and nature when young exhibit positive attitudes towards the environment and nature as adults.

Researchers conducted 2000 phone interviews with adults in large urban areas across the country. They analyzed the influence of demographics and childhood experiences on answers to the following three questions: "Do trees in cities help people feel calmer?" "Do trees have a particular personal, symbolic, or spiritual meaning to you?" and "During the past year, have you participated in a class or program about gardening?"

The results indicate that both passive (growing up around natural elements such as trees and flowers) and active (picking flowers, planting trees) interactions with plants when young resulted in strong positive adult attitudes towards trees and nature. The highest correlation came with adults who actively gardened as kids. This suggests that gardening programs for kids who aren't normally exposed to gardens and plants can foster a better appreciation of gardening and the environment when they're adults.

For more information about this research, go to: HortTech.

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