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!


August 29, 2006

Emily Neidigh

Outdoor Recreation Planner / FWS

Today's Date: 08/29/06

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

There was a creek that flowed under a railroad track near my parent's house. I thought it had such potential for wildlife - if only we could remove the tons of litter that seemed to cover it. We did a bit of work with what we could move and carry as kids. I guess that was when habitat restoration became a love for me - being able to remove some evidence of human impact and make the world look untouched - little miracles that even I can perform.

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

My favorite outdoor place was in a tree. Any tree - any place. I read in them, climbed them, ventured to peer into nests and collected leaves as I believed a scientist would - to identify them all. I suppose if I had to choose a specific place, I would choose my grandparent's farm. It was my job to venture as far and through as many barbed wire fences as I could when we visited at Christmastime. I was an explorer - a discoverer – seeing and experiencing things written in my head as an epic journal which would inspire many.

Now? I relied on a lot of different wild places when I was in college – as fortresses from the city. Now I live in rural America and find myself without just one place to choose.

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

I love the dragonfly. Any dragonfly really, and almost any insect. I suppose the overall reason for loving an insect is because so many of them are misunderstood - not being "cuddly" or controllable. Really very fascinating creatures with simple - but powerful - construction such as the dragonfly to the more technical and acrobatic flies. The smallest difference between each species' wing veination indicating their place in the world. And dragonflies.. well, there's a time when that seemingly fragile flier can eat a small fish with alien-like techniques. Such things are fascinating and offer a challenge to the viewer.

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?

There are two things - and it can be difficult to accomplish them both. We need people to care about the resources enough to conserve them. But we need people to understand the difference between conservation and management techniques such as harvesting. I think Leopold said it best when he said "One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise". We need to convince people that economics don't matter if the natural world falls apart. Everything is linked and we need to look far enough into the future to at least try and see what investment will make the most difference.

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

When I visit a place that doesn't have the resources to teach children the arts, I feel pain for those children and the beauty that they are missing. I hope that they will be able to develop an appreciation for those things if they ever get the opportunity to experience them. The same is with the outside world. There is something so refreshing - so timeless - so healing - about the outdoors. And everyone should get the opportunity to experience it. So, take the time. Get outside. Consider the life of the ant - of the tree - of the antlion waiting for a meal to slip into their funnel. When you walk a trail - don't focus so much on the wildlife you see or don't see - but imagine the wildlife that's been there and what they may have been doing.

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