We recently did an interview with a student who was part of a team putting together a conservation magazine for a school project. She asked some great questions! Here are our responses.
Why did you two decide to write Zoology for Kids?
We dreamt of putting our heads together to work on a project that would combine our talents for the greater good. One of us (Bethanie) is a writer and one of us (Josh) is a zoologist, so when we found out about Chicago Review Press’s For Kids series, we thought an animal-science book for middle-grade readers would be the perfect outlet. We’re both passionate about wildlife conservation and educating others about the natural world, and we hope Zoology for Kids and our latest book, Marine Science for Kids, will help ignite that same passion in the next generation.
Also, as we prepared the original pitch for the publishing company, we did a lot of research to find out what was already out there, and we discovered there wasn’t much for older kids and advanced readers who are eager to delve into the fascinating world of zoology in all of its complexities. We hope we’ve created something that will help fill that gap.
What are the biggest threats to animals today?
Simply put, the biggest threat to animals today is us—humans. Humans threaten animals’ habitats, we create pollution and contribute to climate change, and we don’t always follow sustainable farming, fishing, and hunting practices. All of these actions and others threaten wildlife and wild places.
Why do you think it's so important to educate people about ocean conservation and marine life?
The ocean is so very important to life on Earth. It’s also facing many threats—from acidification to plastic pollution and the list goes on and on, unfortunately. It’s easy to ignore problems facing our planet when we don’t necessarily have to face the consequences (at least in the here and now), so for that reason it’s extremely important to bring ocean conservation issues to the public’s attention. Many people care about marine life, so that’s a great way to start conversations about conservation.
Should zoology be taught more in school?
Yes! But not just zoology. Science in general is a great tool for understanding the world around us, and zoology is just a part of that. It is important for students to realize that anyone can participate in the process of science. When kids understand that they are scientists too, they are free to ask questions and try out hypotheses. They get to explore what excites them and, someday, this could lead them to a career they love. Hopefully, along the way, they’ll also make decisions that are mindful of our impact on the planet.
In our experience, kids are inherently interested in animals, and they often love being outside in nature. For that reason, zoology is often a popular subject, but there are so many ways to study the world around us and help make changes for the better.
Should we be teaching these things from early on, what are the benefits?
Absolutely. If we raise kids who care about animals and the future of our planet, then we are doing ourselves a great favor. Kids who learn about the importance of healthy ecosystems early on are more likely to choose to live more sustainable lives and, eventually, teach their own children to do the same.
What are other environmental lessons we should be teaching our children from an early age?
One of the best lessons we can teach our children is that everything they do has an impact on the environment—for better or worse. We can do this not only by talking to them but also by modeling sustainable behaviors. For instance, families can work together to reduce their use of single-use plastics, grow their own food, or volunteer for a local conservation organization.