Peg Rosenau understands the importance of living sustainably. Her childhood was spent freely roaming the neighborhood and exploring the woods, fishing and catching critters, and building forts and rock dams with her friends. “My intimate and intuitive sense of the natural world and my understanding of my place in it is the bedrock of my life.” She fears that this once-common childhood experience is vaporizing among younger generations and that “nature deficit disorder” (as described in Richard Louv’s bestselling book “Last Child in the Woods”) will have dire consequences for the health of our planet. Fortunately, a great organization called the Children and Nature Network has been effectively working to counteract this trend. Rosenau shares, “I have formed my own Project Let’s GO (get outside) neighborhood nature club based on their [Children and Nature Network] recommendations and love taking kids outside for unstructured exploration and play. It’s the simplest thing I do in my “green work,” but to me it is the most meaningful.”
Rosenau majored in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology at UMass Amherst with dreams of spending a career doing glamorous research like radio-tracking wolves or working in a zoo with a captive breeding program for endangered species. However, she realized quickly that unless trends in human resource consumption were reversed, this field didn’t really make a lot of sense, and she shifted her focus to environmental education. She has worked as an educator and volunteer with the Audubon Society and the Institute for Ecosystem Studies and at Boston University. Currently, she is a K-8 substitute teacher at the Shelburne Community School and a Hands-On Nature volunteer.
Her family – husband Paul and children Emma and Theo – try hard to reduce their carbon footprint and commit to a simpler life, although she admits this is not always easy. “Despite the fact that we live in eco-conscious Vermont and like to think of ourselves as “green by association,” we are still middle-class Americans who live in a social milieu where air travel, two cars, food shipped from thousands of miles away, and ever-more gadgets for comfort and convenience are considered normal and acceptable. Though we have made some major changes to our home – including installing solar panels that supply our annual electricity needs – we still have a long way to go to reduce our household consumption level to that of the average global household, and to one that will be meaningful to reversing climate change.”
Rosenau has served on the Shelburne Natural Resources committee for four and a half years. She shares that Shelburne residents consistently rank conserving the rural character and natural landscape of the town as their top concern and this committee works hard to uphold this priority. Rosenau considers her involvement writing and implementing the award-winning Shelburne Open Space Plan one of her greatest accomplishments. She and Doug Merrill (of the Pedestrian Paths Committee) contribute to the “Parks and Paths” column in the Shelburne News.