Writing about wildlife is a rewarding profession; not financially, of course, but personally and professionally. It involves going outdoors to observe and listen and feel, coming inside to research and interview, and finally sitting down to write about wildlife in ways that convey meaningful experiences and important bits of learning.
Still, sometimes even a committed wildlife writer might find herself wondering why we do what we do. What’s the point? Is anyone listening? Can people’s minds and hearts be influenced by words, in ways that help conserve the wildlife and habitats we care about?
Here’s one man’s answer. This came from Dr. Sammy King, unit leader of the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. King was the keynote speaker at the Tanana Valley Sandhill Crane Festival, where I taught writing workshops in August. The holder of a doctorate from Texas A&M, he is working on the reintroduction of whooping cranes to Louisiana.
King took part in our Sunday workshop. At the end, when I asked participants for closing thoughts, this is what he said:
“I am a scientist, and in my opinion, scientists can only do so much to communicate the importance of wildlife conservation. It’s the work of people like you, the work of artists, that is vital in reaching the public with the conservation message.”
How’s that for encouragement?