Why Nature Is So Important for Kids

A conversation with nature photographer Clyde Butcher
December 24, 2019 Updated: January 30, 2020
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Clyde Butcher is an award-winning nature photographer who is best known for his striking black-and-white images of the Everglades in Florida and elsewhere. I spoke to him recently about the importance of encouraging children to spend time in nature. Here’s what he said.

The Epoch Times: How did you get started in nature photography?

Clyde Butcher: I spent a great deal of time out in nature as a child. My parents gave me a Brownie Hawkeye camera when I was 8 years old and it became my hiking partner.

The Epoch Times: What do you love most about spending time in nature?

Mr. Butcher: There is a healing essence in nature. When I go out into it, I come back a much better person. I don’t know how nature does that, but it is a common response to almost everyone I’ve ever talked with.

The Epoch Times: Why do you feel it’s important for children to spend time in nature?

Mr. Butcher: If children don’t get out into nature, they will never feel a connection to nature. They aren’t going to feel it’s important and will see no reason to take care of the environment. They will not realize that a healthy environment is what keeps us humans alive.

The Epoch Times: What advice would you give to a budding nature photographer?

Mr. Butcher: Go out and do it! Use different lenses until you find one that sees the way you see and then learn all you can about photographing with that kind of lens. Experiment a lot. Copy the style of other photographers, and then, after much practice, develop your own vision, your own style. Mostly, have fun!

The Epoch Times: How would you advise parents to get their families into nature more often?

Mr. Butcher: If you love your children and want some “alone” time with them, going into nature is the best solution. It is away from technology, it is quiet, and filled with wonder. Both parents and children will come home feeling loved. Start when they are young. Put them in a backpack and go on a day hike with them before they can even walk.

When they begin to walk, let them walk on a dirt trail. Let them push the stroller down the trail. When they get tired, put them in the stroller and keep walking. If you have nothing other than a city park, make sure you use that as your nature until you have time off to go out into “real” nature.

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