Welcome to NurtureNature Education!
I am Pascale Miller and this is my new business and webpage
In my first blog and I should introduce myself and explain why I do what I do – connecting children to nature.
I had a 10+ a career as a linguist and endangered language field researcher whilst completing a MPhil in linguistics, which gave me an amazing opportunity to travel and live with different cultures in Laos, Highlands of Papua New Guinea, and lastly Arnhem land in top-end Australia. I documented endangered languages such as Nyaheun, Jru’, Jawoyn, learning their languages whilst also learning about their traditional cultural practices and beliefs and connection to the land and environment. I saw how national languages (Laotian, English, Pidgin) and attitudes towards ethnic minorities in different counties have resulted in younger generations loss of language knowledge and connection to culture. After many years of trying to ‘save’ the decline of minority languages, this left me heartbroken at how ancient cultures such as Aboriginal Australians and Mon-Khmer groups of Southeast Asia are losing their languages, traditional cultural practices and connection to traditional lands.
I turned to my other passion – gardening and nature. I wanted to sow seeds and immerse myself in the positive energy that growing and helping with the starting of life and renewal gives us, rather than depression and helpless frustration of watching the extinction of minorty language and cultures.
I studied horticulture at Burnley and after working in the industry as a gardener, in nursery retail and doing landscape design and consultancies, I had the fantastic opportunity to teach kitchen gardening to K-3 students at a prestigious Jewish IB school in my neighbourhood in Melbourne. It was a joy to share my passion for nature and gardening with young children. However I was shocked at how many children in the current generation didn’t have gardens, and were initially scared of getting dirty or touching insects or worms and didn’t want to try eating different foods we had grown – not even the broccoli! After a term my stories of experiences in other cultures and passion for nature and the exotic rubbed off on these students and they began eating more unusual things you don’t find on pizzas such as turmeric, yacón root, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus! We made kokedamas (Japanese string bonsais), dreamcatchers, discovered wildlife in the school garden and learnt about the traditional landowners the Bunurong and the story of Nairm (Port Phillip Bay), connecting it to the stories of Jewish dislocation of homeland. The awe and wonder of nature is contagious when you can share it with others. Eyes are opened; I hear gasps and chirrups of glee as discoveries are made; connections to own gardens and neighbourhood parks are shared; elements of maths, literacy, second language, chemistry and physics are learnt and reinforced using the school kitchen garden programme.
I believe this is my calling – my natural passion, ability to engage young children and connect them to their surroundings is a gift. I also feel positive that the way to protect cultural heritage, regenerate natural habitats and ecosystems which humans have damaged, reinvigorate endangered languages and cultures, and be part of the reconciliation process is to reconnect children with nature. We can raise environmentalists and empower the generations to come to come up with their own solutions to solve problems with global warming, pollution, species loss etc.:
I want to share my passion, ideas and experiences with you, and help grow some environmentalists!