My Conservation Odyssey

Recently I saw a Tweet put out by Turning Point USA about conservative conservationists, a group to which I proudly and passionately belong. The responses were infuriating, though not surprising. The same group who thinks black and gay conservatives are traitors to their race and gender preference apparently think all conservatives want to do is rape and pillage the earth. I detest being labeled in any way, so I responded with this:

There’s conservation and environmental hysteria. Have you ever heard of an actor named William Holden? He was a Republican, Ronald Regan’s best man and a conservationist long before SJWs used it to virtue signal.

I’ve had Mr. Holden and his beloved, the amazing Stefanie Powers, on my mind recently, but today I feel even more connected to them as it’s the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. I suppose my journey as a conservationist began long before I ever considered myself one and I have my father to thank for setting me on this path. He worked in the paper industry for 42 years and taught me about forest management and environmental sustainability long before those concepts became household words. When plastic bags became ubiquitous, he stressed using paper because it is both a renewable and recyclable resource. He also taught me how to nurture my natural surroundings when he planted a redtip hedge the year we moved into the house my parents still live in — it was my responsibility to feed each hedge with a tablespoon of Miracle Gro in a gallon of water once a week. Nearly 40 years later, the hedgerow is an impenetrable wall somewhere around 12 feet tall and the lessons I learned that summer about environmental stewardship are ones I carry with me today.

I also credit my mother with starting me on my somewhat obsessive path to avian conservation. When I was a child, she put out suet and birdseed along with sugar water for the hummingbirds. We had a paperback bird identification book and we spent many mornings trying to identify the winged visitors who graced our backyard. In 2016, I put out my own bird feeder and continued to research and study the many birds that greet me as I stumble around the kitchen making my coffee each morning. I also spend a lot of time outdoors listening to birds and trying to identify them by their calls — my theory is you can always tell a birdwatcher from others because they’re the ones standing under trees and looking up! One of my favorite avian encounters occurred years ago at the football stadium on the old practice fields. The whole area is swampy and several red tailed hawks have made it their hunting grounds. One afternoon, one landed on the fence as I was watching the team, and I got within several inches of it before it flew away.

Then, in 2019, after a rough year that lead to my current love of the 80s television series Hart to Hart, I learned about Stefanie Powers and the foundation she created as a tribute to William Holden. Since then, I have dedicated myself to making a difference in the natural world. I now call myself a conservationist, though it seems like I actually was one all along. I’m currently using needlework to educate myself and others about endangered species as part of a year-long project. I have no idea where this journey will take me, though hopefully someday I will make the trek to Kenya so I can walk in the footsteps of a man who, even 40 years after his passing, continues to inspire us to peacefully coexist and conserve the beauty of the earth and all its creatures.

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