Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy Birthday To Pennsylvania's Rachel Carson!

Today marks 104 years since the birth of legendary environmentalist, conservationist and Pennsylvanian Rachel Carson. In honor of her tireless efforts to preserve the natural word, here are some quotes from The Sense of Wonder, courtesy of Open Road Media, that are particularly inspirational:

"A rainy day is the perfect time for a walk in the woods . . . nature reserves some of her choice rewards for days when her mood may appear to be somber."

"If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in."

"I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel."

"Exploring nature with your child is largely a matter of becoming receptive to what lies all around you."

"No child should grow up unaware of the dawn chorus of the birds in spring. He will never forget the experience of a specially planned early rising and going out in the predawn darkness."

"The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural world are not reserved for scientists but are available to anyone who will place himself under the influence of earth, sea and sky and their amazing life."

Short Biography Of Rachel Carson
Rachel Carson (1907–1964) was one of the most influential American nature writers of the twentieth century. She wrote four critically acclaimed books, as well as articles and pamphlets on conservation and natural resources. Grounded in the scientific discoveries of the day, Carson’s works were notable for their intimate lyric prose that appealed to everyday Americans. She is considered one of the first environmentalists and popularized new ideas and words to describe man’s relationship to the earth, such as ecology, food chain, biosphere, and ecosystem.
Born in the rural town of Springdale, Pennsylvania, near the Allegheny River, Carson spent much of her childhood roaming her family’s sixty-five-acre farm and exploring the woods around her home. Her lifelong love of nature, encouraged by her mother, was coupled with a passion for writing, and her first published piece appeared in the popular children’s publication St. Nicholas when she was ten years old.
Carson pursued writing at the Pennsylvania College for Women (now called Chatham University) but switched her focus to biology before graduating in 1925. After studying at the esteemed Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts and receiving a master’s degree in zoology from Johns Hopkins University in 1932, Carson joined the U.S. Bureau of Fish and Wildlife Service, where she worked for fifteen years as a scientist, editor, and editor-in-chief of the bureau’s publications. When she was named junior aquatic biologist in 1936, she was one of only two female professionals at the bureau.
Carson began writing natural history articles for the Baltimore Sun and other papers during the Depression and was encouraged to transform her scientific articles and pamphlets into general-interest pieces. In 1941 she published her first book, Under the Sea Wind, which tells the story of the sea creatures and birds that dwell in and along North America’s eastern coast. In 1951 she published The Sea Around Us—about the ecosystems within and surrounding the world’s oceans—which captured the imaginations of readers around the world. The book became a cultural phenomenon and was named an outstanding book of the year by the New York Times, won a National Book Award and John Burroughs Award, and inspired an Academy Award–winning documentary of the same name. The book has sold more than one million copies and has been translated into twenty-eight languages. With this success, Carson left the Fish and Wildlife Service to become a fulltime writer, and in 1955 she published a follow-up to her bestseller, called The Edge of the Sea.
A year after publishing The Edge of the Sea, Carson adopted the orphaned son of one of her nieces. Stories of her outdoor adventures with Roger would become the touchstones of her essay in Woman’s Home Companion magazine, “Help Your Child to Wonder,” which was published posthumously as the illustrated The Sense of Wonder (1965).
But it was Carson’s fourth book, Silent Spring (1962), that would again catapult her into the limelight. In this book Carson challenged the widespread, conventional use of many chemical pesticides, including DDT, citing the long-term effects on marine and animal life. Silent Spring provoked an outcry of concern, as well as criticism from the chemical industry, government, and media. However, shortly after publication, her findings were accepted by the Science Advisory Committee under President John F. Kennedy. In 1970 President Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency, and two years later the use of DDT was banned. The publication of Silent Spring has been credited with sparking the environmental movement in the United States and continues to inspire readers today.
Rachel Carson died in 1965 from breast cancer. She was fifty-seven years old. In 1969 the Fish and Wildlife Service named the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, near Carson’s home in Maine, in her honor.
You can also visit the Rachel Carson Homestead in Springdale and enjoy the educational exhibits and programs.
In 1995 Gov. Tom Ridge named the headquarters building for the Pennsylvania departments of Environmental Protection and Conservation and Natural Resources after Rachel Carson. And in an interesting twist, the Rachel Carson Building became home to thriving pairs of Peregrine Falcons, once almost wiped out by DDT which Carson fought against.

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