woman rancher smiles on grassy pasture in california
Megan Brown is a 6th-generation rancher at Table Mountain Ranch in Oroville, California. Brown's family has been through two large wildfires recently, and are trying to adapt. © Alex Snyder/TNC

How to Help

On Earth Day, Nature Is a Part of Us

On this 50th Earth Day, we face challenging circumstances. Even if we can't get outside, nature will be there for us.

We never envisioned spending the 50th Earth Day this way. Primarily indoors.

Yet here we are, collectively playing our part to help solve a global problem like COVID-19.  The environmental challenges of our present day are also formidable. 

Humanity can solve these challenges. Look no further than the movement sparked by that initial Earth Day in 1970. People came together and urged their leaders to advance cleaner air and water. We all have a part to play in the next 50 years.

In this moment, when many of us are feeling a little separated from nature, we'd like to remind you:

Nature is a part of you. It always has been. It's more important now than ever that we value it and act for its protection.

Luke flowers grow in spring.
SUNSET Luke flowers grow in spring. © Ben Jiang /TNC Photo Contest 2019

The three people ahead come from different walks of life but are linked through their connection to the natural world. When life is spinning, nature gives them solace, gratitude and new insight.

We hope you'll find a little of yourself in these stories.

Birds are Why He Flies Free and Stays Hopeful

Professor and birder J. Drew Lanham grew up dreaming he could fly. Birds have helped him achieve free flight in his life. They also give him the best tool we have: hopefulness.

J. Drew Lanham Alumni Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology & Master Teacher at Clemson University, author, birder, & poet.
birder birdwatcher looks through binoculars at birds in field
Birding with Trusty Binoculars Dr. J. Drew Lanham bird-watching at an agricultural research center run by Clemson University in nearby Pendleton, SC. © Travis Dove
wooden bookshelf filled with birding and birdwatching books and trinkets
Ecology and birding books A bookshelf within Dr. J. Drew Lanham's personal sanctuary. It's a creative space where the professor, birder and author keeps books, artifacts and treasured trinkets. © Travis Dove
Birding with Trusty Binoculars Dr. J. Drew Lanham bird-watching at an agricultural research center run by Clemson University in nearby Pendleton, SC. © Travis Dove
Ecology and birding books A bookshelf within Dr. J. Drew Lanham's personal sanctuary. It's a creative space where the professor, birder and author keeps books, artifacts and treasured trinkets. © Travis Dove

Conservation really means feeling deeply enough for something that you’re willing to save some for others. I think the word for that is love. And I think conservation is ultimately an act of love.

Ornithologist & Professor, Clemson University

Pigs, Pasture and a Family Legacy

Megan Brown’s family has been ranching on this North California land for six generations. Reliant on the soil and water, Megan views nature as her reason for being.

Megan Brown Cattle and heritage hog rancher in Oroville, California.
rancher pets snout of pig out in pasture with dog
A rancher and her pigs Recently, Megan Brown chose to remove the electric fence which corralled her pigs at night, and replaced it with a barbed wire version. © Alex Snyder/TNC
charred tree trunk and tree lined pasture after wildfires in oroville california
Table Mountain Ranch Table Mountain Ranch in Oroville, California recovers from two of the most destructive wildfires in the state's history. 6th-generation cattle rancher Megan Brown must adapt. © Alex Snyder/TNC
A rancher and her pigs Recently, Megan Brown chose to remove the electric fence which corralled her pigs at night, and replaced it with a barbed wire version. © Alex Snyder/TNC
Table Mountain Ranch Table Mountain Ranch in Oroville, California recovers from two of the most destructive wildfires in the state's history. 6th-generation cattle rancher Megan Brown must adapt. © Alex Snyder/TNC

Nature is the most important thing we have. It is our home. It is our community. It is our reason for being.

Rancher, Table Mountain Ranch

Tranquility & Purpose While Tending the Trail

Working in the tranquility of nature has helped Alvin Poole do more and see more. His leadership has grown through his time maintaining trails with GulfCorps in Louisiana.

Alvin Poole Conservation Crew Member, Gulf Corps/Limitless Vistas Inc in Lousiana.
gulfcorps americorps crew members group photo outdoors at orientation
GulfCorps members GulfCorps members after their orientation retreat. © Mike Dumas/TNC
man buzz saws through fallen tree trunk after hurricane
GulfCorps crew members help their communities recover in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael © Mike Dumas/TNC
GulfCorps members GulfCorps members after their orientation retreat. © Mike Dumas/TNC
GulfCorps crew members help their communities recover in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael © Mike Dumas/TNC

I like the dirty work. I’d rather go out and get dirty, get mud on my face. Nature as a whole gives me tranquility...It makes you want to work.

Conservation Crew Member, Gulf Corps/Limitless Vistas Inc