Via Hecate, who blogs as and in fact is a witch (seriously):
Most environmentalists attributed their commitment to a combination of two sources, “many hours spent outdoors in a keenly remembered wild or semi-wild place in childhood or adolescence, and an adult who taught respect for nature.” Lots of time rambling in neighborhood woods and fields and a parent or teacher who cared about nature were frequently cited as causal forces in the development of their own environmental ethics.
And further down, a great quote from anthropologist Edith Cobb:
“My position is based upon the fact that the study of the child in nature, culture and society reveals that there is a special period, the little understood, pre pubertal, halcyon, middle age of childhood, approximately from five or six to eleven or twelve, between the strivings of animal infancy and the storms of adolescence—when the natural world is experienced in some highly evocative way, producing in the child a sense of some profound continuity with natural processes. . . .”
My dad was an avid hunter and trapper, and often took me along on his jaunts. Thank goodness the killing part didn't stick, but I learned a LOT about natural things from him. I am convinced that my love of nature stems from the hours we spent together. I learned about what mammals live in a particular area, what they ate, what their preferences were for cover, what their fur and paws felt like, what kind of teeth they had, what their internal organs looked like, etc.
It was rather a complete education, I think. One that with suitable modifications I used with my descendants, hopefully with good effect.