Many involved with children and youth outreach slam social media as a negative force.
The fact is, social media is here to stay and we at the Kingdom Zoo: Education Center have found some very positive ways to use it to connect kids with wildlife and its Creator.
Instagram, Facebook and other mediums have become the primary way many youngsters socialize and by directly engaging them, we can help inspire and also continually fan the flames of interest in all things wild.
Photos and concise video segments are at the heart of social media communication and NOTHING translates better to these mediums than wildlife and the great outdoors.
One of the tactics we employ is “bait and switch”.
For example on Instagram, we will post a photo of something exotic like a cobra and typically get many kids “liking” and commenting on it. I mean who doesn’t think cobras are interesting?
Then we will post a similar species from their backyard, like this eastern hognose and tag the kids who responded to the cobra pic.
We titled this “East Texas Cobra” and put information on how it flattens its head like a cobra and has all kinds of strange behaviors. Kids love things that they can actually go see in the wild and all of a sudden they start to consider the area they live in as a wild and wonderful place to perhaps explore.
Another example would be posting a photo of a leopard followed by a bobcat tagged with info on how they can live in the most densely populated cities. A way for kids to connect with their home environment is key.
The next step is a call to action to actually go outdoors.
Some options include a photo contest (Instagram is perfect for this) where they can post photos of the animals they find in their city or even the bugs in their backyard. You can also promote outreach events such as animal demonstrations or field expeditions.
We have to take the message directly to the kids and their families and social media is an important way to connect.
Pop stars, sports celebrities and everyone with influence on the planet is using this fairly new format of communication to reach the kids of the world, so why shouldn’t we? After all, we are wanting to ensure the next generation is full of good stewards of our amazing natural resources and social media will be vital. No question about that.
More ideas on how to connect with and inspire kids to go outdoors and hopefully see the majesty of God in the process in the next installment..
Chester Moore, Jr.
Source: Kingdom Zoo