By Daniel White and James Miller
How did you learn to love nature? What made you care about conservation?
So often, the answers to these questions involve people from another generation — family members, mentors, friends — and the experience and knowledge they shared.
These days, the role of passing on love and knowledge of nature is perhaps more crucial than ever, and more challenging. That’s because the obstacles to sustaining and rejuvenating our collective commitment to conservation — increased urbanization, electronic overload and more — are abundant, real and documented.
Still, even along the densely populated East Coast of the United States, many places and families demonstrate that the conservation torch is still being passed from one generation to another. And it’s happening in some wonderful and sometimes surprising ways.
Travel with us from Florida ranches to Maine’s Penobscot River as we uncover some of these inspiring stories.
Family-owned cattle ranches have been part of Florida’s rich cultural tapestry for 500 years. Two patriarchs, Bud Adams and Doyle Carlton, discuss how partnering with the Conservancy on Northern Everglades conservation is helping their ranching children and grandchildren carry on the family tradition. Meet Bud and Doyle
For as long as she can remember, 19-year-old Felice Martin has wanted to farm. Now she’s getting her chance as the newest tenant of Drumlin Hill Farm at the Conservancy’s Sunny Valley Preserve in Connecticut. Felice hopes to inspire others through sharing her experience and love of “simple, natural, local.” Meet Felice
We tend to think of ecological wisdom being handed down from experienced elders. But Victor Medina, a Manhattan college student and LEAF program alumnus, turns that tradition on its head. This young environmental leader inspires his parents and extended family to scale a mountain. Meet Victor
For 71 years, groups of New York City schoolchildren spent parts of their summers learning about nature at Northrop Camp in Massachusetts’ Berkshire Mountains. A 1993 fire interrupted that tradition, but kids are returning to the camp thanks in part to the Conservancy’s recent protection of Northrop’s lands. Visit camp
Michael Lipford, the Conservancy’s Virginia director, works alongside his daughters in their suburban Richmond vegetable garden, passing down respect for the land that he learned on his grandfather’s Appalachian farm. Gardening brings the Lipfords closer as a family and connects them to their community. Meet the Lipfords
John Iber uses his grandfather’s lessons from the Chesapeake Bay to rake oysters in New Hampshire. John has been returning to Adam’s Point on Great Bay since 1973 to rake with friends, swap stories and toss shells back into the bay. For John and his family, seafood is the tie that binds. Meet John
Lives have long ebbed and flowed in rhythm with the Penobscot River, home to the Penobscot Nation for 10,000 years. The Penobscot were there when lumber floated downstream built cities powered by hydroelectricity, and now they’re partners in removing dams and restoring 1,000 miles of habitat. Meet the Penobscot
As a young man, Randy Edwards’ grandfather believed that his work clearcutting forests would improve the land. Today, Randy hopes that his own young grandchildren will grow up knowing that forests provide much more than timber – and that he can help inspire them to protect nature. Meet Randy
Sixteen generations of Sheppard men have made their living farming in New Jersey. With a little help from the Conservancy, David Sheppard follows his dream of converting to organic practices, leaving a legacy of clean water and sustainable harvests for his daughter, grandson and the Delaware Bay. Meet David
About the Authors
Daniel White is a Conservancy senior writer based in Charlottesville, Virginia; James Miller is a Conservancy media relations manager based in Boston, Massachusetts.