As I have grown in my journey as a conservationist, many influences guided my path.
Earliest and most important in forming my opinions about nature, nurture, and integrity is my dad. My trips afield and a-stream with him formed the foundation and my strongest connection to creation.
Both of my grandmothers influenced me as accomplished gardeners.
Outdoor magazines influenced me greatly as well. I read any Field and Stream, Sports Afield, or Fur, Fish and Game I could get my hands on. I reread them until the pages were tattered beyond use.
Then came the teachers. Some I encountered in classrooms, like Bill Collett, who taught my high school outdoor education class. Others I never personally met, save through the pages of books.
Two of my favorite “teachers” met through books are Gordon MacQuarrie and Aldo Leopold ,who coincidentally were friends. I would encourage anyone with interest in the outdoors to read these authors. While they differed in approach, they communicated a sense of respect, responsibility, and wonder toward nature.
Last week, I was in Madison, WI at the Trout Unlimited annual meeting. Leopold taught at the university in Madison. MacQuarrie earned a degree there and became a journalist, later becoming editor of the Milwaukee Journal.
Though I had only been to Wisconsin once before during my high school outdoor education class (rock climbing near Baraboo), I felt that I had returned to some of my conservation roots.
Our Guadalupe River chapter of Trout Unlimited was selected to receive the Gold Trout award this year, as the top chapter in the country.
As chapter president, I received the award with several chapter officers who also made the trip. I gave a short acceptance speech beginning with this quote from Leopold:“Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets, but humbler folk may circumvent this restriction if they know how.” I was humbled later when I learned Leopold’s granddaughter was in attendance.
Time did not allow me to visit Leopold’s home in Madison, Maquarrie’s cabin near Eau Claire, nor fish his beloved Bois Brule River . I will return someday – perhaps when “The White-Throats Sing”