Q&A with itty bitty naturalists

June 7th, 2024
By Guest Contributors

This is an excerpt from the Spring/Summer 2024 issue of the Upstate Advocate, Upstate Forever's twice-yearly publication. To read a digital copy of the complete publication, please click here.

We asked four "next generation conservationists" — a.k.a. kids of UF staff members — to share their thoughts on the outdoors. Our interviewees are: Eleanor Burton (4), Bodie and Lewis Hottel (3 and 5), and John Swails (5). Many thanks to them (and to their parents!) for their time and insights.

What is your favorite thing to do outdoors?

ELEANOR: I like to eat outside and play. I like to play tag and stuff. I like going on "Yeti hunts" and going on hikes at Paris Mountain and going birdwatching.

LEWIS: Ninja course and playing with Bodie in our backyard. And my favorite thing to do is the creek.

BODIE (who likes to copy his big brother): Baseball. Ninja course. And the creek at our playground.

JOHN: Play! I like to play zombies with my friends Hunter and Alder. I usually like doing really cool flips on the monkey bars. Double flips. 3, 4, 5 doubled. I keep my flips secret. And Swamp Rabbit Café. I like playing there and doing handstands. I love to eat all the bread.

What do you love about spring and summer?

ELEANOR: I like the baby plants and listening to the birdies. I like summer.

BODIE: It is hot out. It is hot out, mommy. I like going in the creek at the neighborhood playground.

LEWIS: When it’s hot out, you go to the pool.

JOHN: My favorite season is fall when I play soccer and jump in leaf piles. Fall is when Halloween is, and I wear my skeleton costume. About summer, I like the hotness and the pool. I like doing hikes in the spring to Stumphouse Tunnel.

What do you like about where you live?

ELEANOR: I like walking on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. I like the trees and the mountains and playing superheroes.

LEWIS: I like playing with our neighbors next door. They are fun to play with. We play all kinds of games. We always play outside together.

BODIE: Our neighbors. They are fun to play with. We play outside.

JOHN: I like all the parks. I go to them on the weekends. I love the slides – the big slide at Rockwood, the mini golf course park (McPherson Park), Airport Park where the planes blast off and land and the rock wall, the Cleveland Park sandpit (volleyball court) and the exercise equipment. And the Unity Park hills and splash pad.

Is nature important to you?

ELEANOR: Because you can hug a tree or you can plant seeds! That's my job.

LEWIS: It's so important, 'cause everybody likes to play out there.

BODIE: Yeah, everybody likes to play out there!

JOHN: Nature means something that is cool and beautiful. I don’t like breaking nature — it is important.

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