Current Issue -

Future Focused: Connection to the Land

By Roxie Nichols (almost 12-year-old) | Summer 2024 Inspire(d)

A new Inspire(d) column written by pre-teens and teens, to help give the next generation a chance to voice their opinions.

Roxie Nichols & Connection to the Land:

Close your eyes and put yourself in my shoes…or, really, at this moment it’s bare feet. You’re lying in the sun, you can faintly hear the water trickling down the smoothed-over-time rocks, there’s a couple of birds calling peacefully, and the breeze gently floats across your toes. Think about what you love most in this moment in nature.

fern leaf illustration

My favorite part could be trees, rain, rivers. Although honestly, I’d be lying if I said there was one specific part I liked over another. There are so many amazing things on Earth that give me goosebumps. I love climbing trees and hearing their leaves wave in the wind, their branches creaking like hinges on a door. I love sitting in the sun by the river, hearing water trickling as it flows. There are also those times when I get home from school and run outside to dance around in the rain or have an evening fire with my lovely parents (and/or) neighbors. If I think about it, my favorite part could be the smell of fresh air and the feeling of being “free” in a way. Maybe wild is a better word. It’s just an irreplaceable thing that you can’t experience inside or online. 

pine sprig illustration

I love nature and being “wild” out in the wild. I feel most connected to the land around trees, running water, and birds. For the last three years, I’ve been part of Red Oak Outdoor School programs, or as we like to call it: “Ida Camp.” Ida and Red Oak Outdoor School have helped me and my friends learn more about and feel more comfortable in the outdoors. Ida has taught me how to identify plants as edible or harmful, introduced me to new games and songs, and made me care for plants and animals more than before. All while having fun! I’ve just become extra excited to go into nature and learn more, make more, and see more. Altogether, the different camps and events I do are the highlight of my summers and teach me all new stuff that is often not taught in school nowadays. These summers have planted in me the huge importance of caring for Earth. I learned more about stars and the universe in fifth grade this year, and it helped me realize just how small we are here on this planet, and just how special this place is.

sun illustration / connection to the land
Illustrations by Lynsey D. Moritz /

So, now it’s time to open your eyes. You can see a robin rummaging through the dirt to find a worm for their newborn babies. The sun’s going to set soon, and the stars start to come out. Think about how those stars are trillions of miles away and are also millions of miles wide, even if they look no bigger than your pinky finger. Now, think about the observable universe, which is 94 billion light years across. We are tiny specks in this universe, living on this unique planet, standing an average of five-foot-six. Now zoom yourself out of my toes and back into your own perspective… but hang on to the importance of loving – not destroying – this beautiful thing we’re living on. Please remember to care more about our little 7,926-mile-round Earth.  The next generation – my generation – needs you.

Roxie Nichols

Roxie Nichols (pictured here with Ida Rotto) is the daughter of Inspire(d)’s Aryn Henning Nichols and Benji Nichols. She turns 12 this summer (2024), and looks forward to her first several-night camping trip with Ida and friends in July!