“Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help, shall we be saved.” ~Jane Goodall~
I constantly remind myself of these wise words spoken by a great leader whom I met in 2012. As I progress through my academic career I continue to learn more about the challenges facing the worlds fauna, which has inevitably opened my eyes and my heart. Much of my work has been driven by my desire to help, whether by simply building our knowledge about a particular organism or phenomena, proposing strategies to manage threats, or by evaluating the success of implemented conservation plans.
The foundation of conservation rests on awareness and understanding, which I gained from academic classes, childhood visits to the zoo, and spending time outside just enjoying nature. I try to pay it forward. In addition to teaching, I mentor undergraduates in field and laboratory techniques essential for understanding. I also worked for the Michigan DNR educating park visitors, including inner city kids about local wildlife and current conservation work. Something as simple as catching a fish for the first time can instill a sense of value for fisheries and wildlife that can last a lifetime.
So, while my professional career is largely focused within the field of biological science, I continue to expand into the world of social science and political science in order to share my passion with others and help conserve the nature that remains. I am reminded of the importance of this task by the words of an inspiring congressman, whom I met in 2013,
“Living wild species are like a library of books still unread. Our heedless destruction of them is akin to burning the library without ever having read its books.” ~John Dingell~