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Connecting with Nature
Ken Bell is a lifelong resident of the Chatham-Kent area who understands the importance of respecting and conserving the environment. Now residing in Shrewsbury, Ken fosters a strong connection to nature, actively participates in conservation efforts, and promotes environmental respect in the community.
What exactly does having a strong connection with nature entail? Well, “My connection with nature is pretty much daily,” Ken says with a certain sense of pride. “Kayaking, and cycling, and hiking, and camping, those are my recreational activities.” Ken’s connection with nature started in early childhood while camping with relatives in Bruce Peninsula and Rondeau Provincial Park. Over the years Ken came to respect and love the biodiversity of his home region. He now passionately counts frogs and watches birds in spring, takes inventory of plants during summer, watches butterflies migrate during fall, and tracks deer during winter. Ken has taken part in several tree planting initiatives in the community, including not-for-profit tree programs in which trees are sold at cost and planted by volunteers. This is an example of taking responsibility for one’s environment. No one is forcing Ken to go out and plant trees, but he knows that in order for his strong connection with nature to be maintained, he must do his part to ensure that nature flourishes and there is something left for us to be connected to.
Ken’s dream is to one day see “a widespread understanding and appreciation for natural biodiversity”, not only in Chatham-Kent, but in all of society. It isn’t realistic to think that everyone will fully understand the complexity of nature, but Ken understands that; society members don’t need to know all of the particular details, but they should understand how things used to be and how they can re-establish them on their own properties. Ken believes that if people understand and appreciate that there used to be greater biodiversity in this region 200 years ago, they too will want to help restore it.
Implementing a positive societal change in environmental mentality will not be easy. As Ken says, “It’s going to take a long time, but we can rebuild it.” What society must learn to truly understand is that every little bit counts. Every bottle that is recycled, every tree that is planted, every environmental conservation story that is told, all of these lead to a better understanding and appreciation of nature. We are an integral part of the environment, and we need to realize that we can each do our part every day. The future of the environment is in our hands.