Faces of Conservation

Brief Biography

I'm a native of Stillwater, Minnesota and have a bachelor's degree from Macalester College and a Ph.D. in Russian history from Indiana University.  I've taught classes on Russia, the Soviet Union, the Middle East, and modern Europe at Centre College since 1970.  I've published three books and several articles in the field of Russian history and occasionally have published on issues related to conservation as well.  My wife, JoAnn, taught in the Danville schools for 32 years.  She currently writes grants for Kentucky School for the Deaf in Danville and helps run its museum.  Our older daughter, Sarah Hamm-Alvarez, is Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Affairs at the School of Pharmacology at Southern Cal.  Our younger daughter, Jill Hamm, is a professor of adolescent development at UNC-Chapel Hill.  We have three grandchildren, Rainie, 16; Sophie, 13; and Logan, 11.  And I do need to mention our dogs, Omar, Siobhan, and Clive.


Every little effort helps.  We've protected 82 acres of beautiful land in the Knobs of Boyle County. Although it is a small tract, a number of declining migratory species nest there:  wood thrushes, Kentucky, hooded, and worm-eating warblers; Louisiana water thrushes, Acadian flycatchers, and others.

Nature.org: Have you always had an interest in conservation?

I think my interest in conservation goes back to my love of camping and the outdoors as a youth.  As adults, my wife and I became avid birders and we've traveled to Africa and to numerous countries in this hemisphere on birding and wildlife excursions.  I've also been on the Board of Directors of the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge, near Danville, for many years and am past president of the Danville-Boyle County Humane Society.

Nature.org: Do you have a favorite TNC project or experience?

I prefer to set my sights on a specific project and work towards accomplishing it. In the case of the Conservancy’s work, that means protecting a valuable piece of habitat – forever – that might otherwise be logged, mined or developed.”

In the near-term, this has meant helping the Conservancy secure funds to help with purchasing the 2,571-acre Sturgis Tract, which harbors mature oak-dominated bottomland hardwood forest located within western Kentucky’s Big Rivers Corridor – a landscape boasting a portion of the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Green, Tradewater and Cumberland rivers. For me, acquiring the Sturgis Tract and other properties like it represents success in conserving key habitats within the Bluegrass State.

The Sturgis Project is the kind of project that really excites me.




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