James Pinsky: Support our educators – they’re teaching tomorrow’s leaders

James Pinsky

The beauty of tomorrow is we’re always creating it.

We can improve it, ruin it or simply ignore it. I’ve done all three, sometimes in the same day. I’m sure we all have.

As conservationists, however, making tomorrows impacts a lot more than our own future. Our work, or lack thereof, impacts today, tomorrow, and tomorrow’s children.

Funny how any talk of the future always comes down to children. Some among us worry our youth will squander it. If they do, however, I’d argue we have only ourselves to blame. After all, while our children may inherit our future, it is the generations before them who groom them for it.

In other words, we will reap what we sow.

“Great changes in the destiny of mankind can be effected only in the minds of little children,” said Sir Herbert Read, an English philosopher who, by the way, was the son of a farmer.

There are countless movements globally which aim to inspire, educate and empower our youth on a variety of topics and conservation is certainly one of them. One not need to travel far at all to see youth leadership greatness though.

Many of us have a hand in the growth and welfare of our children, but few would disagree that teachers can and do have the greatest impact in our children’s lives. On that note, I have had the privilege and honor to work with many of our local educational institutions in our district, and all of them are doing exceptional work. Strasburg High School’s consistent domination of our local Envirothon competition is a credit to Brian Fisher and his program in particular. Two other schools stand out to me in their approach and impact toward youth conservation leadership as well.

The Massanutten Governor’s School in Mount Jackson and the Mountain Vista Governor’s School in Middletown both create, facilitate and lead robust, challenging initiatives that plant the seeds of great change in children in a variety of important matters like engineering, the arts, and yes – conservation. Neither school dictates what the students should think, only that they should – think.

The teachers at both of these schools do what good teachers do anywhere – they inspire their students to dream and take on the added responsibility of giving their students the tools to turn their dreams into actions. Sometimes that tool is an education, and sometimes that tool is fueling their students’ passions. The truth of the matter is education is both technical and emotional. “Education should not be the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire,” the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats said.

On that note, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. The embers are getting warm at Massanutten Governor’s School, thanks to the innovative thinking of Massanutten Governor’s School teacher Kara Bates. The Shenandoah County based school has teamed up with the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District to host a youth conservation leadership summit on Oct. 26 to educate and enable critical thinking toward understanding and solving conservation-based issues in and around our district. Local, state and national conservation leaders will converge on campus to engage students in meaningful dialogue about their role in conservation leadership today, tomorrow and beyond.

Teachers know how to improve our future. Every day remarkable teachers across our district are sowing diligently what we all will reap. As our school year slowly begins again, I urge all of us to embrace and support our educators throughout our district so they’re successful because when they are, we are.

James Pinsky is the education and information coordinator for the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District.  Contact him at 540.465.2424, ext. 104, or james.pinsky@lfswcd.org. Visit us at www.lfswcd.org or follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/lfswcd.