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"We Care About the Environment": 10 Things This Millennial/Gen-Zer Wants You To Know

The Fin De Siè·cle Generation Gets A Bad Rap From Some But Liam Diekmann Says Don't Sell Them Short

Millennial-aged students, part of Whitman College's prestigious "Semester in the West" program stand in Badlands National Park on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Millennials everywhere are standing up and making a difference.  Photo by Todd Wilkinson
Millennial-aged students, part of Whitman College's prestigious "Semester in the West" program stand in Badlands National Park on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Millennials everywhere are standing up and making a difference. Photo by Todd Wilkinson
We are not our stereotypes. Just because we are labeled “millennials” by some or members of GenZ by others doesn’t mean we all behave in a certain way. We don’t all act like rebels or walk around with a half-assed attitude.  We might be categorized as members of a certain generation, but we are human beings first and above all else. We are young, just as once upon a time you were

Cut us some slack.

If you’re going to judge us, judge us as individuals, by our personality, actual work ethic, and skill set rather than on the assumptions you make based on generalizations. When it comes to the environment, most of us care. 

So, with the advent of a new year, here are the top 10 things you should know about millennial/GenZers if you are concerned about the environment and want to convince yourselves that we are paying attention.

1.     We do care. It might not seem like it, but we all care about something.  We might not care about the same environmental issues, but we do care, you just have to ask what we care about, and not tell us what to care about. Our generation is facing a world far more complicated than the one you did at our age. Yes, we care about the environment and other global issues but more often than not we don’t know how to get involved or where to start.  We sometimes need that little guidance, but not too much otherwise it becomes overbearing and off-putting.

2.     If you put your gadgets down we’ll put ours down.  Our generation, in fact just about all of society, is orbited around technology and we use it every day.  When our elders are on their computers and phones, not paying attention to us millennials we tend to do the same thing and opt out from the present.  We want you to pay attention to us, get us involved and off our phones.  Instead take us out fishing or hiking and show us the beauty of the outside.

3.     We are afraid of failure.  We are scared to challenge ourselves and take risks. Some of us were taught to think that way. Do you know where we learned it? Us millennials need our elders to show us that it is okay to fail, that without failure we will never learn. The difference between the novice and the master is that the master has failed more times than the novice has tried. 

4.     You have a captive audience, but you don’t see it. We are craving to get involved and make a difference, but instead you keep us busy doing other tasks. Just ask us; we’ll step up. When we bring good ideas and fresh perspectives, we would appreciate it if you heard us out and offered the courtesy of listening. Give us less chores, less homework, and more hands-on activities.  Get us outdoors to experience life. Go with us, even if it is just in the back yard to lie on the grass, smell it. No grass?  Pavement is fine.  We can feel the warmth of the sun and gaze at the sky, together. Mark Twain said, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

5.     Not all technology is evil. Yes, our generation, which some also have labeled "the iGeneration" is revolving around social media and it might seem bad, but rather than scolding us and trying to get our attention, join us and get our attention through social media.  Whether it be a podcast or video, we are more inclined to watch it, rather than sit down and listen. Watch it with us, share stuff you find interesting with us. Keep in touch with us, through texting, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable.

6.     Shorter is better. If you want to capture our attention, then don’t go on and on.  You’re boring us. If you sit and lecture us, you will lose our attention. Mark Twain also said, “You’ll have to excuse my lengthiness—the reason I dread writing letters is because I am so apt to get to slinging wisdom & I forget to let up. Thus, precious time is lost.”  You’re losing us with your long-winded rambling.  
A Millennial hiker surveys the White Cliffs in the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. Photo by Todd Wilkinson
A Millennial hiker surveys the White Cliffs in the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. Photo by Todd Wilkinson
7.     We seek feedback, not constant praise. Millennials don’t need to be told how smart and hardworking they are all the time. It might make you feel better but we see through it. We won’t eschew the compliments, but what we really want is feedback. Honest feedback, the way you like to receive feedback. Yes, criticism isn’t always easy to take, but we know that it will make us stronger and smarter. We won’t love you any less for giving it to us straight.

8.     We need flexibility. Rather than giving us a fixed schedule, let us do it. We love getting to make our own schedules and being trusted to complete our tasks and meet our deadlines. Whether we are sitting at our desk in our room, in our bed, or in a coffee shop across town, we will get it done.

9.     It is not all about social status or making money. Really. Prove us wrong through your own actions, because at the moment that is what we know and what has been fixated in our minds. We know there is a big difference between earning a great deal of money and being rich. Do you? 

10.  Embrace and trust us.  Lastly, accept and support our ideas and dreams willingly and enthusiastically. Put faith in us, because if you do that, we will return the favor and trust and listen to you, being more open to the knowledge and wisdom you have to share.
Liam Diekmann
About Liam Diekmann

Liam Diekmann is Mountain Journal's flyfishing columnist who explores the connection between Millennials and nature—and how they can make a difference in conservation.
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