Nope, I never gained access to “The Hundred Club”—couldn’t count to one hundred when I was in kindergarten. Not even close. Our teacher tallied each student’s progress on a for-all-to-see bulletin board—neatly trimmed with colorful construction paper—at the back of the classroom. Like a trophy to be had, near the top of the board, written in bold letters bedazzled with glitter, were the words The 100 Club.
It was simple: count to one hundred and you got in the club. A few kids handily gained entry…ninety-eight…ninety-nine…as quickly as that three-digit number left their lips…100!…Teacher memorialized the accomplishment by writing their name in magic marker right below those glimmering letters. Just like that, all access member in the The 100 Club.
When my turn to count came I breezed past fifteen, stumbled through the high teens, made it past twenty, and then managed to get myself thoroughly confused from there on out. When the numbers started to not add up, Teacher scorned, “Well, I’ll go ahead and mark you down for thirty.” And so I took my place on the bulletin board of shame and humiliation, in the lower right corner (so far from those glitzy letters!) for all the other kids to see.
In protest of The 100 Club, smugly, I never again attempted to gain membership, proudly holding my gratuitous spot at thirty, knowing full well that I just barely made it north of twenty-four. The counting game was a nice challenge for a five-year-old, but what Teacher didn’t know was that I had a set of skills that the other kids didn’t have. Before I could count to 100, I could tell the difference between Red-shouldered and Red-tailed hawks, knew a Kingfisher by the sound of its call, could cast a fly rod, was expert at predicting when the orange-spotted salamanders would come out after a rainstorm, and could calculate which slopes were best for rolling boulders, among other skills gained from my formative time spent in the outdoors. Sorry Teacher, back then the numbers just didn’t matter; I didn’t spend my afternoons studying flash cards in front of the television. My classroom—The Big Woods—held limitless learning opportunities.
Fast-forward quite a few years and I’m pretty good with the digits, but I still maintain that kids shouldn’t have to worry about making the numbers add up, and that’s why I’ve committed to joining 1% For The Planet as an individual member: so that our future generations are assured wild places—with clean air, cold water and abundant wildlife—to thrive and develop in. You too can make a difference by becoming a member of 1% For The Planet. Take the next step by learning more at www.onepercentfortheplanet.org.