recess radio program

08/16/06
Ranger Rick
    by Lisa Dusenberry

Have you ever wondered whether insects get sick? Or what the world's strongest animal is? Well, according to the National Wildlife Federation's Ranger Rick Magazine, insects get sick just like people, from a variety of viruses and bacteria, and the world's strongest animal is not a big creature, but rather the small rhinoceros beetle that can carry over 30 times its body weight. That would be like a man walking a mile with a pickup truck on his head. To help children connect with the natural world around them, the National Wildlife Federation publishes three magazines: Wild Animal Baby for ages 1-4, Your Big Backyard for ages 5-7, and Ranger Rick for ages 7 and up.

As a child, I used to wait for Your Big Backyard to arrive in the mail. I would stare at the full-page color pictures, which contained animals from all over the world as well as fun facts, jokes, and activities. I helped animals work their way through mazes and did simple science experiments using construction paper and food from our pantry. A few years later, I moved up to Ranger Rick magazine. I now read longer articles about nature, different parts of the world, and outdoor activities like hiking and animal identification. Ranger Rick, the raccoon mascot of the magazine, and his animal friends guided me through basic environmental concerns, both near and afar, by suggesting ways I could interact with the wildlife around me, from identifying neighborhood bugs to reading conservation pieces about reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone Park. The magazine also encouraged me and other children to ask questions about the environment by writing in to Ranger Rick.

Along with its print version, the magazine has moved online, offering interactive games, book suggestions, homework help, and photo contests. And yes, Ranger Rick still answers questions from kids around the world. Questions like, Do ostriches really bury their heads in the sand when they are scared? Or why is space so dark if the sun is out there? Ranger Rick has been reminding its young readers about the wonders and importance of the natural world since the 1960s. So I urge parents to be a Ranger Dad or Mom by going online and checking out this delightful, thoughtful magazine.

Information about Ranger Rick and the non-profit National Wildlife Federation can be found at http://www.nwf.org

Copyright 2006 Lisa Dusenberry

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