Just being in nature has many benefits, but when students learn approaches for how to observe, ask questions, and make connections, their wonder and curiosity increase, and they enthusiastically explore their surroundings. Learning, engagement, and enjoyment are multiplied when students make their own first hand, unfiltered, extended observations of the details of nature. Great instructors know how to step aside, guiding only as necessary, so students have the profound, sometimes transformative experience of observing organisms and phenomena. When students look closely at the veins of a leaf, a filter-feeding barnacle, or a salamander trudging towards water–then ask questions or form explanations from their observations, they understand the natural world a little better. By devoting time and attention to these firsthand observations, students also develop compassion and cultivate a relationship with nature. When students build intimacy and connection to the land, water, and organisms around them, they deepen their relationship with nature and grow their capacity for lifelong curiosity and inquiry. These universal experiences of humans throughout history are essential building blocks of present-day environmental literacy.