In Indiana’s woods and bogs, on Lake Michigan’s sand dunes, Rita and her grandfather would go hunting. For deer tracks through the woods. For tadpoles darting under water. Or for grey stones to dunk in the lake and bring up glittering like gems.
Later as a young writer for a construction magazine, Rita drew on the curiosity her grandfather had nurtured. “I was lucky to be around the energy crises of the 70’s. The editors would say, ‘Solar power, wind power ... let’s give it to Rita – it’s all new to her.’”
Today, she writes for building magazines, construction associations and governmental agencies. “I tell companies how LEED-certified practices can help their bottom line. I’ve been interested since college – now the technology is here. I’ve gone whole-circle green.”
The natural world remains her inspiration. “When my mind’s stuttering to communicate a difficult technology, my seven-year-old self wants outside,” Rita chuckles. “Nature helps me appreciate the simplicity of complexity.”
“In the 80s, I heard it was Cleanup Day for The Nature Conservancy – at a bog I explored as a child! So I went. It was exciting to go there again,” she declares. “The Conservancy's mission and direct approach to conservation was so in tune with my inner child that I joined immediately."
In 2001, it was time to reassess her priorities. “I decided to change my will and give money where it would make a difference. The Nature Conservancy was one of three organizations that I could identify with. They’re action-oriented – they don’t just talk about conservation. They go out and do it!”
Rita takes satisfaction in knowing her support helps ensure others can immerse themselves in nature as she does – in places where “a bower of branches above hides even a jet trail in the sky. When I go out, I don’t take binoculars. I don’t take anything. You need to get away – just you and nature. Nature can change you.”
"I want others to experience the joy, peace and diversity the natural world so freely shares. And that means the land needs to be protected. The Nature Conservancy saves natural habitats so other 'forever seven-year-olds’ can be amazed and inspired by the beauty and wonder of nature."
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