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Urban Youth Learning Valuable Lessons About Rural Life While Visting Mason
Wednesday, July 9, 2008 • Posted July 9, 2008

Through a partnership between Texas Nature Project and St. Mary’s University, seniors from San Antonio visit Mason to find out about the natural world and their relationship to it in a philosophy course called “Critical Inquiry into Humans and Nature.”

Aldo Leopold argued in the 1940’s that, “There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.” George Brannies hosted the ten students at his ranch so that they could learn where food comes from.

Each of our Mason mentors, George Brannies, Sue Kaan, Keith Kaan, Adotia Rode, Jim Wilson, Jan Schultz, and the Mason Museum docents, as well as Amanda Ross of LCRA who traveled in from Austin, were exemplary models of stewardship. Each extended the warmest welcome, demonstrated kindness and generosity with time and expertise. Each opened their home and their hearts, and these students and their families, and everyone they touch through their personal and professional lives are better off for it.

Our natural resources are under great pressure from increases in population and frequent waste. We may debate the causes of the current situation, but the problems are real, and we need to do some serious thinking about how to responsibly approach the many challenges that face us. We cannot “leave it to the experts” whether scientists or politicians. Each of us changes the world, each day, with our choices about water use, waste disposal, consumer practices, travel and more.

These effects are concentrated where populations are concentrated. That is why Texas Nature Project focuses on the urban areas of Texas - San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Austin - for its educational outreach programming. Telling people they can develop a responsible, caring community with each other and with nature is one thing - witnessing it is entirely another.

Mason bears witness to the kind of emotional bonds and knowledgeable commitment we all need to enact in our lives.

“We cannot win this battle to save species and environments without forging an emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well - for we will not fight to save what we do not love,” S.J. Gould.

On behalf of the students of St. Mary’s and Texas Nature Project, I wish to provide my deepest gratitude for your support of our work, helping students to connect learning and life.

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