Our #WednesdayWisdom and our last #WomensHistoryMonth spotlight is on American author Annie Dillard and her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974), which is often cited – like Thoreau’s Walden – as a great source of inspiration for aspiring science writers and has swayed many to pursue natural science careers. Our celebration of nature writers like Dillard is also a recognition of how nature-based literature gives people with limited experiences in the outdoors with an amazingly rich connection to nature through stories.
Taking risks also includes the faith that the resources are in place – “your wings” – to stay aloft and fly. This gorgeous osprey hails from the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, a green respite nestled within the urban setting of the city of Philadelphia. Refuge lands are a thriving sanctuary teeming with a rich diversity of fish, wildlife, and plants native to the Delaware Estuary and including numerous osprey nesting areas. Environmental education is a core mission; the refuge provides a living classroom to connect both schools and communities with nature and local history…and helps area children and families grow “wings,” cultivating courage to act in spite of challenges.
Spotlighting conservationist Rosalie Edge (1877-1962) as we celebrate #WomensHistoryMonth; part of #HerStory is her legacy and leadership to establish the Pennylvania-based Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary was the first privately acquired property for the sole purpose of conservation. It was considered the model for The Nature Conservancy by one of TNC’s co-founders, Richard Pough. Today, Hawk Mountain is visited by tens of thousands of visitors every fall to witness the migration. The data gathered at the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary about immature hawk and eagle migration were very helpful to Rachel Carson in making her case against DDT.
Rosalie Edge’s legacy energized future conservationists to restore healthy bald eagle populations and the eagle was finally delisted under Endangered Species Act protection on August 9, 2007. Though the bald eagle was not common by the time the species nearly disappeared from most of the United States, its federal protection was hugely instrumental in returning our “national symbol” to the skies.
Author, naturalist and activist Terry Tempest Williams has long inspired women conservationists with her bold views of wilderness and the symbolic ways wide open landscapes mirror an inner and sometimes spiritual journey toward individual courage and freedom. Her book, Refuge, chronicles habitat restoration efforts at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah in combination with a parallel and very poignant story of her mother’s illness and death. Her stories are about healing the land and healing the soul.
We celebrate #WomensHistoryMonth to spotlight the legacy of women conservationists throughout history no matter how long ago and even now as women make history everyday.
Like this Virginia Bluebell unfolding on a May day at the FWS‘s National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV, Terry Tempest William’s storytelling peels back the leaves of meaning to reveal beauty and truth. Her writing and activism will go down in history as an inspiration to those who work with “boots on the ground” to preserve our wild places.