Nature has always been a very important part of my life thanks, in part, to the influence of my parents.
When we were kids, my mother would take us to a beautiful little patch of woods (The Mount) where we could walk on shady, leaf-covered paths and learn about all of the wonders of nature. Sometimes, she would collect leaves or sticks or shells or other artifacts of nature and display them in our home like beautiful works of art. And she always took the time to marvel at the clouds or a beautiful full moon.
My father had a love of photography. To my father, taking photos was more than a way of recording special events. It was an art. Dad was not content with the early point and shoot cameras that were as convenient as dropping in a film cartridge and snapping away. My dad used a camera that required the manual setting of focus and aperture. Dimly lit shots required the use of a tripod. And to insure that the finished products were what he intended them to be, my father even developed and printed some of his own shots in a basement darkroom. My dad gave me my first SLR camera when I was still a teen and, although I had already developed a love of nature, the camera taught me to look at it all a little more closely.
My love of nature grew. And while other kids were dreaming of being teachers and doctors and nurses, I was dreaming of growing up to become a philanthropist.
Of course, I didn’t know what the word meant at the time. But somewhere along the line I realized that I didn’t want to just sit and enjoy all of the wonders of the world myself. I wanted to do my part to make sure that those wonders were preserved so that others could appreciate them for years to come.
Throughout my life, whenever I visited a park or a public nature preserve, I thought that perhaps the greatest contribution anyone could make to the world was to set aside land so that it would forever be protected and enjoyed. What I wanted the most was to one day grow up and be rich enough to donate huge parks to the world. Not a bad dream for a nature-loving kid.
Well, I may never be rich enough to have a forest or a park donated in my name, but I know that I can still do my part to protect nature and to encourage others to do so. Through my writing, my photographs and my financial contributions, I’ll keep doing what I can.
There are so many wonderful groups that allow me to do my part to help protect the planet. Groups like the National Park Foundation, The American Forest Foundation and the Sierra Club Foundation are just a few of the many organizations that help me to live my dream of protecting the planet.
The way I see it, life is like a garden. Every action and every thought is like planting a seed. I’m going to try my best to plant something good.