Staying grounded in nature
We started Taproot in 2007 with a mission to support and strengthen children’s loving connection to the earth.
I’m proud of the name “Taproot.” The word is sturdy and melodic. Inspired by an acorn’s first endeavor to extend its taproot deep into the earth, it’s fitting, too. The taproot becomes the tree’s anchor and lifeline, allowing it to survive fire, drought and gnawing rabbits, all the while drawing sustenance from the earth to grow into a magnificent, life-supporting tree. When children play and explore nature, they sink their own metaphorical taproot into the earth. Our hope and intent is for the connection with nature to help them through hard times, and grow into magnificent, life-supporting humans.
Now, the idea is being severely tested. This pandemic is a genuine world shakeup, and a chance to see if a connection to nature really does help us get through hard times. For my own family, and many Taproot families, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Hours of free, self-guided outdoor play were preparation and practice for surviving quarantine. The ability and willingness of my children to go outside — to play, work and wander — has felt nearly as important as food. It has kept their bodies healthy, their interactions kind, their appetites robust and their sleep peaceful. They miss their friends terribly. They miss school. They feel the fear and uncertainty that fills the air. It is still hard for them, but it is so much better because they are grounded in nature.
This experience has made me even more eager to get back to supporting kids’ connection to the earth. The recent calls for racial and social justice further clarify the need to make sure every child has this opportunity. The logistics will be different in the post-Coronavirus world, but the basic idea hasn’t changed: Nature connection is a delight during easy times, and a life saver when the going gets tough.
Zac Wedemeyer is the co-founder and lead teacher of Taproot Nature Experience, an organization dedicated to saving the world by strengthening children’s loving connection to the earth. From an early age, nature was Zac’s best friend. His work attempts to share this joy with younger generations. He lives in Iowa City with his partner Elesa, their three children Iris, Ani and Gavin, three gigantic dogs, and two cats.