Why Children Make the Best Environmentalists


Maritza Morales Casanova is pictured with students at Ceiba Penandra, the Mexican environmental education park she launched in Merida, the Yucatán capital. Source: National Geographic

Maritza Morales Casanova, an environmentalist at ten, believes kids are best at teaching others.

Environmentalist Maritza Morales Casanova’s mantra?

Get ‘em while they’re young.

Morales Casanova should know. As a ten-year-old living in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, she started Humanity United to Nature in Harmony for Beauty, Welfare, and Goodness (HUNAB) after seeing neighborhood children vandalize trees, harm their own pets, and hurt other kids.

She instilled a new respect for nature by teaching kids how to grow plants and care for animals. “It encouraged me to spread the idea of harmonic coexistence between living things—that each living being has a place in the world that must be respected,’’ Morales Casanova says.

By 13, she was asking Mexico’s president to create a protected area to train kids about environmental issues. “My biggest challenge was gaining credibility,” Morales Casanova says. “Although I had been developing solutions for years, authorities and business leaders only looked at my age, not my experience.”

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