Making Connections With the Earth

Hikers appreciate the views from Cerro Grande Trail in Bandelier National Monument. (Photo by Sally King/NPS)

In honor of Earth Day, we asked PEEC volunteers and community partners to share the ways that they feel connected with our planet. Read some of their thoughts below!

How do you connect with the Earth? We’d love to hear from our community. Send an email to takeitoutside@peecnature.org to share your story.


A mountain lion visiting the pond in Selvi’s backyard wildlife habitat. (Photo by Hari Viswanathan)

“I started connecting to the Earth and loving nature through watching birds when I was growing up in India. It was a tradition in our family to feed the crows before we ate in the mornings and this was a chore that I was given. We didn’t eat until the crows had been fed.

I got married and moved to New York in 1967. My bird-watching hobby faded during this time, but I began to pursue it again when we moved to Los Alamos in 1996. We found a nice home located between two canyons — a haven for wildlife. We built ponds and started attracting animals to our yard, which has allowed me to deepen my connection with nature.”

— Selvi Viswanathan, PEEC Volunteer


“Many of my generation were advocates and activists for our environment on that first Earth Day 50 years ago. Since then, we have gained great knowledge on ecological principles and have experienced progress and setbacks with regards to policies and practices in the interrelationships of life and the environment.

None of us are comfortable with the current situation, yet it should bring awareness on how human behavior can minimize negative impacts. In just a matter of weeks, we have noticed major cities with cleaner air and an increasing presence of wildlife in nature preserves and other habitats across the world.

Perhaps a positive lesson of this coronavirus is that of the power of society and nature on the interdependence of all life. Hopefully we pay attention.”

— Tony Sena, Professor of Biology at Northern New Mexico College and PEEC Featured Naturalist


Ana and her brother, Olie, hike along the Blue Dot Trail with backpacks full of legos. (Photo by Natanya Civjan)

“During my time at home, I have been going on a lot of long walks with my family. We also made scenes of legos in different places we found on the trails. I like to play fun games with my brother in our awesome treehouse and also pretend we are mountain goats when we hike on Blue Dot Trail.

One of our favorite games to play outside is “I’m an animal”. When we are hiking on a cliffside with lots of rocks, we are mountain goats. We jump from rock to rock and sometimes rest in the shade. When we are hiking under a tree cover with lots of leaves on the ground, we are panthers. We pretend to sneak up on unsuspecting prey, and at the last moment, we pounce. When we go on family walks, we run up ahead and become wolves. We always hide from our parents and then scare them when they pass!”

— Ana Saenz, PEEC Volunteer


“My thoughts this spring naturally turn to the complex interactions between our view of nature and the viruses and other microscopic inhabitants of our Earth. Our experiences in the past few months have reinforced for me the complexity of nature and our connection to even the smallest parts of it.

I am reminded that nature is full of unexpected interactions and that we will continuously be surprised by the parts of the natural world that we do not yet fully understand, whether that is disease, climate change, wildfire, pollution, or endangerment of wild species. I am also reminded of the crucial role that science and education play in trying to understand and mitigate some of these unexpected complexities, and saddened by the willingness of some people to spread harmful, unfounded information based purely on ignorance or malice.”

— Rick Wallace, PEEC Board Member and Volunteer


Sue’s backyard is now full of flowers and has become a haven for insects, birds, and other wildlife. (Photo by Sue Barns)

“Two years ago, I decided to connect to nature by inviting it into my yard. I worked with Ecolutions to bury logs under my soil to hold water, brought in compost, and planted pollinator-attracting flowers and bushes.

What a delight unfolded the next spring! Wallflowers, Yarrow, Flax, and every color of Poppies attracted myriad insects. When winter came, the Black-Eyed Susans provided seeds for so many birds. This year, we have hundreds of Penstemons coming up. Deer, squirrels, rabbits, lizards, and snakes have come to life, and I know there are untold millions of critters at work in the soil beneath my feet.”

— Sue Barns, PEEC Volunteer