Wolvenhoek fame. I have some of her materials which include items trivial, endearing, and important.
She kept, for instance, an “invitation” from the Audubon Society for a donation—essentially this is a nearly hundred year-old direct mail piece (at left). There is also a letter typed on the new technology of that same period—a typewriter—which is of little consequence content-wise as the writer spent most of his time explaining why he could not seem to get his letters all on the same line. But my favorite of the bunch is a 1922 letter written and signed by Roy Chapman Andrews (1884-1960).
Never heard of Roy? Well Roy was a biology and paleontology rock star before most of us were born (see video below). He was a famous adventurer and the director of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City from 1934 to 1941 having gained that position after starting there as a volunteer janitor of sorts in 1908. Roy was a promoter and the one who coined the phrase “Outer Mongolia” when he and his show-boating team of scientific superstars were the first to discover dinosaur eggs.
|“Always there has been an adventure just |
around the corner.” Roy Chapman Andrews
My sense is that if we are going to have these types of powerful voices in the future, we are going to have to do something to "manufacture" them by making sure that they are able to see some truly wild places in their lifetimes. And by this I do not mean movies, lectures and video games, but rather the mud, blood, windburn and adrenaline-charged experiences that will grant them true passion and effectiveness long after we who are reading this are gone.
This is not a new concept or concern. The disappearance of these direct experiences or other exposures to Natural History has been written about by many. It is not altogether separated from the notions that paintings cannot be adequately studied out of a book or that surgeons trained only on computers are a scary proposition.
So if you have a budding Roy Chapman Andrews or Jane Goodall in your life, please do everything you possibly can to get them to where the last of the wildness lives. Encourage them to hike, bike, camp, take field adventures and sign up for field courses where they can. You might even think about doing it as a family and rekindle your own passion for adventure and the broad, open spaces where there might be "...an adventure just around the corner."
Note: There are any number of places that offer adventures and learning in wild places. One to check out is an organization called Earthwatch Institute. Wolf biologist, writer and trophic cascade researcher Cristina Eisenberg PhD just started working there and she is certainly someone collecting significant merit badges towards this scientist, explorer and advocate pathway.