Thanks to my sister Michelle McIlroy for designing the logo!


Ever since I was a child, I have been very interested in nature and the environment. I have a B.S. degree in wildlife biology, and have worked as a zookeeper, wildlife biologist, and ecologist. I am conducting a brief survey of world leaders, government officials, religious leaders, corporate CEOs, environmental groups, wildlife experts, and others regarding nature and the environment. I am also very interested in religious views, customs, and beliefs from around the world, and the interactions between religion, culture, society, and the environment. This is something I am doing out of personal interest, and is not connected to any group or organization. I have been working on this project since the summer of 2006, and hope to eventually turn it into a book and/or documentary. I am hoping to make this into a global project, with responses from all segments of society. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or comments. If you have not already done so, I hope that you will consider taking part in my project, and please spread the word to anyone you think might be interested! Thanks for stopping by!


July 20, 2006

Marisa Alcorta

Master's Student in Horticulture & Agronomy, UC Davis

Today's Date: 7-20-06

1. What interaction with an animal and/or nature in your life has had the biggest impact on you?

Living and working in the tropics during summers as an undergraduate. I spent a lot of time in the jungle, collecting and observing plants, insects and fungi. It was incredibly grounding -- stepping from such a human-dominated environment into the jungle, where plants and ferns tower above you, insects scurry about on errands I could only imagine. It gives one the gift of perspective, as I began to realize my place in the world, it gave me humility. Watching the ecology of nature unfolding before me, the cycles of life and death... it was the clearest demonstration I've ever had of how everything in the world is connected, and it was a lesson I carry with me even on the streets of bustling cities. It's hard to remember when surrounded by asphalt, concrete and cell phones, but we all depend on each other.

2. Did you have a favorite place in the great outdoors during your childhood?

I grew up in Austin, Texas in a neighborhood on the edge of becoming "bad". My classmates lived on the other side of town, so my brother and I would spend summers exploring the creek that I think now was some kind of drainage system through our neighborhood. My favorite thing about the creek was watching fascinating things like tadpoles, dragonflies and minnows. I spent hours watching them, hoping to get some insight into what they were doing. I also remember exploring a razed field, where they had dug everything up getting ready to build a new housing development. I found a few arrowheads and began my love affair with rocks, I LOVED finding rocks. To this day, when I travel, I still bring home rocks. They are a tangible memory of my experiences.

Now? Now I live surrounded by flat agricultural fields, but wandering through scratchy corn plants isn't my idea of fun anymore. When I can, I go to Tahoe or Point Reyes. It's important for me to be surrounded by trees.

3. As a former zookeeper, I would love to know what your favorite animal is, and why?

Well, I think dogs are the most entertaining, (thought I must say I'm not familiar with the personality of giraffes or elephants) -- but I think ants are the most interesting animal I know by far. I'm fascinated by their social behavior, and how they work as a super-organism (bees also do this).

4. What do you think is the greatest environmental challenge facing us now, and what do you think will be the greatest challenge in the future?

Pollution is our greatest environmental challenge at the moment. Pollution of air (global warming, particulate matter), water (pesticides, carcinogens, sediment) & soil (depletion, really, and erosion) will shorten our life spans. The environmental challenge is to stop polluting and basically re-invent industrialization so that it reverses pollution, and cleans the environment as a by-product of whatever it is we are creating.

The greatest challenge in the future for society will be of course, to make this happen and be united about it. The greatest challenge as individuals will be watching our bodies adapt or not adapt to a polluted environment... do we carry mutations that allow us to breathe dirty air better than our neighbor?

5. If you could give everyone one piece of advice regarding the environment and our natural resources, what would it be?

At least once a year, make an effort to step out of your daily life and go stand inside a forest. Stand there for a long while, and listen. Long enough that you can start to recognize different bird calls, long enough to follow an ant down the path, long enough to forget what time it is. And then try to imagine what you would do if this was your only home. Look at all the resources that you have at your fingertips -- pine needles for your bedding, plants to eat, wood to burn, small game to hunt, shade from the sun... Now scale it up a hundred thousand times.... this earth is our home, but what is happening to our resources?

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