James Pinsky: Reward yourself with conservation

James Pinsky

I spend a lot of time in the woods.

How much? Joe and Nancy, the two local gray squirrels near my house, know me by my first name. Still, as much time as I have spent in the woods, I have never seen my forest friends have an awards ceremony.

Nope. Joe, nor Nancy for that matter have ever been awarded the Golden Acorn for being the top nut gathering in Fauquier County. Their nosy neighbor, Fred, he’s a fox, he’s never won an award for best rabbit muncher, and as much as Harry and his murder of buddies, they’re crow, open their caw-caw beaks, I’ve never once heard them boast or complain about winning or losing any sort of award.

Why? It’s simpe really. In nature, the only award is living and let me tell you, out there, away from air conditioning, air bags, gluten-free cereal and the internet, being alive is the only recognition any of these critters want – and they earn it every day.

Still, we humans have a little too much free time on our hands these days and help maintain our sense of pride, success and accomplishment by giving out awards.  Sooner or later most of us will earn some sort of human-inspired award. Maybe it will be for being the smartest, or the prettiest, or the cleverest – or for simply showing up every day for decades. No matter. In our world, every one of them is earned and meaningful. But, I want to let everyone in on a little secret, all of us can reward ourselves every day in the most glamorous way by being good stewards of our natural resources.

Now, being forest friendly likely won’t get you a gold star from the local dominant white-tailed buck, or a free meal from a family of raccoons, but like our forest friends have shown us time and time again, it will give us the most precious prize there is – life.

What’s even better about rewarding ourselves with conservation is it isn’t just you, me or that guy down the street who benefits from this kind of award. No, everyone and everything wins when we choose tomorrow as our contest and win it by doing the things we need to do to make sure tomorrows come every single day, and for every single living thing on Earth,

Winning at conservation doesn’t just make your heart feel good. It makes your heart be good. Clean water keeps us healthy, clean air helps us breath, clean soils help things grow and happy, healthy forest friends give us the organic eye candy we so often seek to make getting out of bed worth it day after day.

So, the next time you get a chance to do the standard grip-and-grin award photo, consider rewarding yourself with something that can never fit on your mantle, the reward of living by being the very best steward our world has ever seen.

Such a gesture probably won’t earn you any plaques, monetary bonuses or even a hearty wing shake from your neighborhood song bird, but I assure you your good deeds don’t go unnoticed by Joe, Nancy, Fred, Harry or me.

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.