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!


March 13, 2010

Katie Mason

Oregon State University

Jul 23, 2009

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

I am eternally grateful that my parents made sure that our family spent a lot of time outdoors. We hiked and camped and gardened and fished and gathered mushrooms and cross-country skiied and kayaked/canoed, and many other things. While we were engaged in these activities we were always encouraged to observe what was going on around us, lie down and watch a spider spinning a web or ants disassembling a dead mouse or a cicada shedding its skin. We always had plant and animal identification books with us and spent time identifying things and learning about them - their range, the conditions best suited to their flourishing. This appreciation and participation in the outdoors has shaped my attitude about conservation, recreation and my own lifestyle.

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

My favorite places in the outdoors during my childhood were my backyard in Portland, OR (my parents lived in the city but had fruit trees, flowers, and a vegetable garden and there was always so much to do and explore in the backyard), my grandma's tree farm in Virginia (I believe it was a white pine tree farm, but basically for me it was like summer camp - swimming, fishing and canoeing in the pond, walking in the woods, learning to shoot a rifle and a bow and arrow, gardening, catching lightning bugs, watching cicadas and snakes shed their skins), and the Columbia River Gorge where my family regularly hiked and gathered mushrooms (chanterelles and morels). Today I would say that my favorite places in the outdoors are the Oregon coast, the Cascade Mountain range and the high desert of Eastern Oregon - I am a Pacific Northwesterner and find myself feeling closest/most connected to the world around me and any higher power there might be, when I am outdoors. The coast is so beautiful whether it's sunny and breezy or cold, raining and gale force winds. The ocean is mesmerizing and always makes me feel a bit small and put things in perspective. I think I feel most in my element when I am hiking in the temperate rainforest of the Cascade Mtns and the Columbia River Gorge - they are so verdant and there is so much going on that is worth exploring, looking at, watching - there is something very calming about this as well. Eastern Oregon is so different from Western Oregon - I am coming to appreciate the rather starker beauty of it - the colors are amazing and the sense of space is pretty wonderful as well. I find the light is often quite magical in Eastern Oregon. I went to college in Massachusetts and, while New England is a beautiful part of the world, I never felt as connected to the outdoors, even when out hiking or bicycling - I don't know if it had to do with how the space feels or what.

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

It's hard to choose just one favorite. I have always liked river otters because of their playfulness. I have very fond memories of a pair of guinea pigs we had when I was a child - they had such personalities and go into all kinds of mischief. I find birds fascinating - their physical structure as well as their social systems. I love domestic cats and dogs and have a couple of each - their companionship and personalities can't be beat for city living. Meerkats are hysterically funny. I guess I'm drawn to animals who's social system and individual personalities are evident, upon observation, to me. For example, while I studied fisheries management policy in graduate school, I do not find fish all that interesting. I understand that I may be projecting human emotions onto animals at times, but often times animals really do have their own personalities and their social systems and hierarchies are fascinating.

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?

Habitat loss resulting in species loss of plants, insects, and animals. Habitat loss can come from expansion of human settlements, flooding/melting associated with global climate change, clearing for agriculture and fuel wood, resource extraction, etc.

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

Learn about it, get out in it and enjoy it in a respectful manner and you will feel compelled to protect it in one way or another. It really can help you feel connected to the rest of the organisms on the planet and help us realize that our lives, while important, may not be the only important lives on the planet, and our troubles, while important, may not be the biggest troubles on the planet, and that we're not always the apex species (like when you're hiking through the woods and suddenly realize a bear or mountain lion has been through there recently and you think "in a fair fight (ie no guns) I wouldn't win"...not a bad thing to be reminded of every once in a while - especially when we get to thinking ourselves pretty amazing and indestructible.

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