I was reminded today of how our culture’s children are growing up without direct contact with and understanding of nature when I saw a college student working on a senior project constructing an earthen wall. Needless to say, she lacked basic shoveling skills that I thought any five year old would normally have. It’s disturbing to me on many levels that this lack of understanding seems to be all to common. Richard Louv describes the concept of the “Eighth Intelligence” in his book, Last Child in the Woods, as naturalistic intelligence; the human ability to recognize plants, animals and other parts of the natural environment. He suggest that we develop a lot of our understanding and sensitivity from the experience of childhood free play. That’s where I remember my very first sense of wonder about the natural world, playing in my backyard and the meadow across the street at my childhood home in Ohio. I spent endless hours playing by myself among plants and critters. A month long hospital stay during my 20s reminded me of how I need an active connection to the natural world. I cannot imagine living a whole life without ever making this connection.