Today, we witness a spreading skyline of increasing uncertainties. Our planet faces the greatest threats ever known to mankind from massive species extinctions and global weather changes. The current economy tugs at our bootstraps, curtailing a collective effort to mount a counter attack against the environmental precariousness that will fundamentally alter the daily lives of our grandchildren. As a parent, I fear that future and ask myself where I should invest the scattered energies of my remaining life.
My own answer, in part, has been to arm the younger people around me (my own children, our Round River students, or the sons and daughters of tribal neighbors) with the tools, education and, hopefully, the acquired wisdom necessary to take on the staggering tasks of conservation and survival in the 21st century. I can’t think of anything more important. And, though this work includes protecting wild habitat, preserving plant and animal diversity and supporting the culture of traditional people, it is also the unsolicited job of saving the earth, hoping their experience in the wider world will filter back to help us all identify and act on the perils facing our own kind. The perception of risk is critical here; a child in danger, a dark alley or a personal brush with tragedy generates an appropriate emotional response far more easily than the distant but predictable ocean rise that will displace a billion starving human strangers.
Round River Conservation Studies directly addresses many of these issues through its student programs. In fact, within my own family, no educational institution or study has been more important than Round River’s field programs. It has been a life-changer, a lifesaver. Living in the field, with like-minded fellows immersed in real work and study that feeds into vital research and immediately benefits a larger community, inevitably creates a tight-knit clan of students eager to apply these skills to an expanded world. The fact that much of Round River’s field programs involve working with local communities and traditional people, deeply accentuates, in my opinion, a sense of global responsibility and the mingled fates of all creatures.
I encourage all parents to look into Round River’s student programs, the field studies that have enriched my children and promise to yet shape their future. But check it out for yourself. Most of Round River’s projects unfold in big wilderness, dramatic landscapes that challenge and inspire the human imagination. Talk to the staff or past students. There’s something different about a Round River field camp; life is more holistic and flexible than in other academic outdoor laboratories. It is the real world—beautiful, demanding, scary, wonderful—and we are in it. I can’t imagine a more profitable, rewarding experience for a young person. It’s where I want to stack my chips.
Doug Peacock, Round River Board Chair