On a recent early evening, my husband and I watched two young boys, poles and bobbers in hand, clamber down the far bank of the river in front of our home as the sun was setting, the river touched by golden light. Fishing season is beginning, thanks to Governor Mills’ decision to open it early. The water is still too high for good results, but I doubt that fact interfered with their happiness being out.
Through the turbulence of COVID-19, all of us have Maine’s children on our minds. I have been moved by the innovation and cohesion in all our communities as we sustain our kids in primary ways, making sure they are protected and nourished—with food, with learning, and with strong connections to the adults who care deeply about them.
Through the experiences of my daughter and her fellow teachers in Millinocket, I hear about the epic efforts of parents, teachers, and staff to pull together good programs of study for students in their homes. The work begins with attention to those kids who have the fewest tech resources in their homes, and expands from there. Virtually every family visited school the day before the school closed to pick up materials and meet with teachers. Often the kids themselves are the most creative; one Millinocket student is starting a family book club.
Among the opportunities for Maine kids is found time. In the absence of after-school commitments, our forests and fields beckon, especially as spring comes on. Maybe many of you had the same gift I did—our parents kicking us out the door for long afternoons to find the entertainment waiting in little streams and patches of woods. You have to believe parents right now are only too happy to do that same thing!
Meanwhile, while the State House is closed, NRCM staff are regrouping with their signature energy and focus to carry on their urgent work on climate and clean energy, on sustainability, on forests and healthy waters, on engaging all Maine communities in protecting Maine’s resources.
More than ever, I see clearly that the Natural Resources Council of Maine’s work is truly about protecting our children and grandchildren, just as our communities are doing in this moment of crisis. One of my fellow board members and his spouse made the most significant charitable contribution in their lives to NRCM’s Protecting the Nature of Maine Campaign. As they did so, they said simply, “This is for our grandchildren.”
COVID-19 is unlikely to be the last substantial challenge our kids and their kids will face. It is inspiring to see the community of Maine’s environmentalists devoting time, talents, and resources to be sure the kids have a healthy future. May children always find resilience and strength in their communities, and in Maine’s wild places.
—Patty Hager, NRCM Board President