Katrina Sriranpong Extols the Benefits of Teaching Children Ecological Literacy

December 29, 2022


Photo by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto : https://www.pexels.com/photo/two-girls-sitting-on-brown-bench-near-body-of-water-1292006/

The gorgeous terrain of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is punctuated by lush forests, soaring fir trees, and cascading waterfalls. Outdoor opportunities flourish in this setting, from seaside hiking to mountain climbing.

North Vancouver’s innate beauty inspires former immigration and refugee lawyer Katrina Sriranpong and her husband, who believe the natural world can teach their two young boys innumerable lessons. The couple hopes their children will grow up to love animals as much as they do and extend that care to protect their habitat.

Sriranpong says, “As a mother of two, raising children who care and contribute is extremely important to me.”  The family lives near a dense forest and a rushing stream where fish migrate. “The children enjoy exploring the woods,” Sriranpong says. Being hands-on with her children as they explore the world is one reason she left a busy law practice. 

As the only Thai speaking lawyer in Vancouver, “the emotional stakes are high in this line of work, and the boundary between work and private life is almost nonexistent,” Sriranpong says. “My private life revolved around the deadlines imposed by immigration or the courts, and there were many years where I worked 12-hour days and on weekends.”

Katrina Sriranpong believes that exploring the outdoors helps children appreciate the natural world, as it underscores humans’ responsibility for its preservation. She is a philanthropist for many nonprofits — including Canadian and worldwide organizations — that assist refugees, combat human trafficking, protect animals, and preserve the environment.

Viewing nature as an inimitable teacher, Sriranpong and her husband enrolled their children in an outdoor nature program to improve their ecological literacy. The program taught them to identify and understand living and nonliving factors in ecosystems.  The program teaches the principles of conservation, environmental science, and sustainability. By becoming literate about the environment, children can grasp basic ecological principles, such as how all living organisms interact and exist in a complex but interdependent web. 

Studies show that spending time in nature improves human health. According to a survey by the International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, it may promote pro-environmental behaviors.  The group published findings that support previous research indicating this fact. It revealed the personal characteristics associated with high and low levels of ecological literacy in Western society, underscoring a positive link between time spent in nature and environmental literacy. 

After surveying 1,000 South Australians to assess their levels of ecological literacy, the research showed that the most ecologically literate individuals exhibited behaviors that stood out. They rated nature as “very important” in their childhood and current households, saying spending time outdoors is “extremely important” to their enjoyment of life. 

Ecologically literate individuals in the study said they spend one to two days per week, minimum, in nature. They tend to grow a portion of their food and consume foods grown or produced locally. The characteristics of people possessing high levels of ecological literacy included greater education levels, particularly in science.

The University of California at Berkeley’s online magazine, Greater Good, published a science-based article showing how humans can gain a more accurate view of their place in the natural world. When individuals understand the everyday needs shared by all organisms, they shift perspectives away from a view of humans as separate and superior. 

Katrina Sriranpong believes teaching children to become eco-literate helps them expand their empathy. Feeling genuine concern about other life forms spurs action to protect the natural environment. It sharpens an understanding that sustainable environments relate to fairness in society’s economic, ecological, and social spheres. 

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