You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

I went to Washington College knowing I wanted to major in Environmental Studies.  My parents were pretty okay with that because at the time I wanted to pursue law school, so that satisfied their uncertainty of my choice in major.  My parents understood the “career” major of nurse or teacher, but understandably could not wrap their minds around what I could possibly do with this degree.  Or why it really mattered.

This remained the case until my mom was forced to take a basic writing course last year and her professor made her write about the environment.  She was not the most keen on reading and writing about environmental issues, but she eventually got used to the idea.  And when it came to choosing a biology course, she voluntarily chose a course on environmental science!

Her first paper was on her ecological footprint – how perfect!  Now grant it she’s still buying food from the grocery store and having our family’s lawn treated, but she’s starting to get it!

They say you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, but in this situation you can!  (Sorry mom! You are not literally an old dog <3 )

It just makes me wonder that if she’s getting it, what is that same turning point for other people.  We all need the environment and in my very unrealistic ideal world I like to think that everyone will have that moment where they recognize the importance of protecting the environment.  However, I think it is more realistic to think that although there may be a resonating point at which people recognize the importance of the environment, they may never be confronted with that point in their lifetime.

It is fascinating to me to think about the messages or issues that transform those that are dismissive and apathetic into environmentalist.  Is it a public health message?  Is it a quality of life issue?  The time it would take to develop a unique transformational message for each person in Maryland is unfathomable.  But I wonder with each new campaign and message that is developed, how many people find their “turning point” and  finally get the importance of acting on climate change and/or saving the Bay.