Making a Difference: Get Involved with the Environment

trail construction

Southwest Conservation Corps crew members help to build a mountain bike trail in Salida, Colorado.

You can only learn so much environmental science indoors. Sometimes, you just have to go out and get mud on your boots. Luckily many nonprofit environmental groups offer programs in which you can do just that—and make a difference while doing it.
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Making a Difference: Restoring the Range

David Bamberger

David Bamberger (center), founder of the Bamberger Ranch Preserve.

When Ohioan J. David Bamberger first moved to San Antonio, Texas as a vacuum cleaner sales representative, he was charmed by the dry, grass covered rangeland of the Texas Hill Country. But much of the land was degraded. It had been overgrazed by cattle and was left with thin soil and dried-up creeks.

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Making a Difference: Climate Scientist

Dr. Susan Solomon

The ozone hole can be seen in this satellite image. The hole is the pale blue and black region immediately above Solomon’s shoulder

Susan Solomon will not soon forget crawling across the roof of an Antarctic field station in windchill temperatures of –62°C (–80°F), moving heavy equipment, and adjusting mirrors while the winds howled and whipped about her. Sounds like an adventure, right? It sure was! But it is just part of what Solomon has done to establish herself as one of the world’s leading authorities on ozone destruction.

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Making a Difference: Dr. E. O. Wilson: Champion of Biodiversity

Dr. E.O. Wilson

Dr. Wilson with one of his favorite subjects—ants.

Dr. Edward Osborne Wilson deserves some of the credit for the fact that this book includes a chapter called “Biodiversity.” Just a few decades ago, the word biodiversity was used by few scientists and wasn’t found in many dictionaries. Dr. Wilson has helped make the concept and value of biodiversity widely recognized, through his extensive research, publishing, organizing, and social advocacy.

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Making a Difference: A Little Piece of Cajun Prairie

collecting seed

Charles Allen is shown here collecting seeds from a compass plant at a Cajun prairie remnant. The leaves of the compass plant face east to catch the sun.

Cajun prairie is a distinct grassland, named for the settlers who lived there. It once covered more than 2.5 million acres of southwest Louisiana. Today, only about 100 acres of Cajun prairie remain. If the work of two biologists and many volunteers pays off, however, a little piece of Cajun prairie will always exist in Louisiana.

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Making a Difference: Butterfly Ecologist

Dr. Alfonso Alonso

Dr. Alfonso Alonso examines a monarch as part of his efforts to understand its ecology.

Imagine millions of butterflies swirling through the air like autumn leaves, clinging in tightly packed masses to tree trunks and branches, and covering low-lying forest vegetation like a luxurious, moving carpet. According to butterfly ecologist Alfonso Alonso, this is quite a sight to see.

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Making a Difference: Predators of Africa

lion guardian

A Lion Guardian takes measurements and attaches a tracking collar to a lion.

Hyenas and lions are two of the most recognized predators on the planet. Every year millions of people go on safari in Africa to see these predators. Millions more see them in documentaries on TV. Most people love lions, but hyenas have a bad reputation.

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