More than a year ago, I stepped away from Wildsight for the birth of my son, Arlo. Now I’ve come back to Wildsight with a new sense of inspiration: I have never been more committed to protecting nature, to inspiring a love of the wild in our youngest generations and to make sure that when Arlo is my age, he can walk through ancient cedar forests, drink clean water, breathe clean air and dream of wild places.
My days passed almost timelessly. I can’t tell you how many times I walked the same loop in the forest near my house with my son strapped to me. The opportunity to slow down and connect with nature was a gift. We came to know the forest intimately, tracked the arrival of each new wildflower, saw the berries ripen, watched the leaves fade to gold and red and finally pile on the ground, only to be blanketed in white.
I watched the trees through his eyes, the shapes of the leaves and needles, the gentle swaying in the trees, the way the sun shines through the canopy. I heard the songs of the birds, the scurrying of the squirrels, the crackling of leaves underfoot and saw this magic reflected in his eyes as they filled with awe. Seeing the impact that these daily forest forays had on Arlo, I had a glimpse at the impact our environmental education programs have on kids throughout the Basin. Can there be anything more important than helping our little people get outside to experience nature’s magic first-hand? To understand where their water comes from and how priceless it is? To develop a connection to the place they call home?
Now that Arlo can walk, our visits to the forest are different. No longer do we travel long distances: the creek can capture us for hours. The fallen larch needles, a seed head, even a stick all have the ability to capture his imagination and inspire a lengthy exploration. What hasn’t changed is seeing the magic through his eyes.
Arlo brings a new frame and urgency to my work. I’m scared. More than 1 million species face extinction. We are in a climate crisis. And to top it all off we are in a global pandemic. What kind of world have I brought Arlo into? What kind of world will I be leaving him? If the past year has taught me anything, it’s that nature is the answer. We need to protect nature to stem the extinction crisis. We need to protect nature to tackle the climate crisis. And we need to protect nature for our health.
There has never been a more important time to embrace nature conservation. We still have the chance to protect our old growth forests, to see salmon return to the upper Columbia River system and to protect key habitats for grizzlies and wolverines. I am proud to be working with the incredible team at Wildsight who fight with passion for the wild each and every day.