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this through intentional effort, dedication, and com- mitment. Children’s interest in and commitment to environmental issues will ultimately be more solid when they have an abundance of authentic, joyful experiences in the environment. The future of our planet does indeed rest in the hands of our children, but those hands can’t be asked to save the Earth be- fore they’re given a chance to get dirty: to love the Earth and to explore the environment through play and experience as only children know how. As edu- cator David Sobel so eloquently put it, “What’s im- portant is that children have an opportunity to bond with the natural world, to learn to love it, before being asked to heal its wounds” (1996, 9). By offering the children in your program oppor- tunities to simply experience nature—in addition to other benefits—you will be cultivating their love for nature and their comfort in it. In the same way that caring deeply about our homes and our families leads us to want to take care of them, caring deeply about the Earth leads us to want to take good care of it. As we all know, children are our future leaders, and lay- ing a solid foundation for their future commitment to Earth stewardship is vital. Even if you don’t have acres of wilderness at your site (and few programs do) it’s important to spend time outside. If you can get away from the post-and-platform play structures, by all means do so. Play and exploration are the first and foremost ways in which children form meaning- ful relationships and construct an understanding of the world around them. And play in nature is by far the best way for them to develop a sense of love for nature and the environment. No amount of environ- mental education will make a difference for the future of our planet if children do not first love it deeply. About This Book In addition to supporting hands-on nature explora- tion, this book is designed to be a resource for edu- cators and administrators interested in lessening the environmental impact of their facilities and op- erations. If you are an administrator, you may have already adopted an overall environmentally friendly vision for your program, and if you supervise staff, you may be trying to engage them in changing day- to-day behaviors. Chapter 9 is specifically written to help you in that journey. In that chapter, I offer sug- gestions for engaging members of your staff and your community in environmentally friendly efforts. You’ll find ideas for program-wide activities and family events, suggestions for effective outreach and com- munication with parents, and resources to guide your overall planning. I developed this book to accompany the Go Green Rating Scale for Early Childhood Settings by Phil Boise (2010a). The rating scale is a valuable tool to help programs evaluate the environmental impact of their facilities and operations. Users rate specific compo- nents of their programs, such as office supply pur- chasing practices and water usage habits, according to well-researched environmental impact criteria. In particular, the individual rating scales address safety (do programs, actions, or materials minimize human exposure to toxins?), sustainability (do they minimize potential harm to and/or limitations on well-being and natural resource availability for future genera- tions), and functionality (do they work and serve their intended purpose?). In addition to evaluating your practices, the Go Green Rating Scale lists steps—some small, others large—that you may take to improve your scores. Similar to this book, the Go Green Rating Scale is organized according to specific environmen- tal topics. That structure allows you to choose which aspects of your program you wish to evaluate. Alter- nately, you may choose to work through it methodi- cally, evaluating all areas in succession. There are many ways to go green, and only you can be the judge of what is best for your program, staff, facility, or community. Whether you’re doing a complete greening of all operations, or just incorpo- rating a few new measures, it makes sense to coor- dinate your efforts in the administrative realm with your efforts with children. The children in your care may very well notice your administrative greening efforts, make the connection with your sincere care and concern for the Earth, and become even more excited than they would otherwise be to undertake learning and exploration on the same environmental Creating a Greener Earth  5