100 of the Nation's top high school and rising college students joined together at the second annual Student Climate and Conservation Congress at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV during June 25-July 1, 2011.
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Over the past twenty-five years Gary Ferguson has written for a wide variety of publications, from Vanity Fair to The Los Angeles Times. He's also author of 18 books on science and nature, including the award-winning Hawks Rest, published by National Geographic Adventure Press, as well as a keynote presenter at conservation and outdoor education gatherings around the country. He is currently on the faculty of the Rainier Writing Workshop Masters of Fine Arts program, at Pacific Lutheran University. Gary's newest book, just completed and currently in production, is called The Carry Home. The work is a celebration of the outdoor life shared between Ferguson and his late wife Jane, who died tragically in a canoeing accident in northern Ontario in the spring of 2005. Meanwhile Gary's biography of the late naturalist John Ripley Forbes—arguably the man most responsible for bringing nature experiences to America's urban kids—will arrive in the the summer of 2011. Much of Gary's writing arises out of intimate experiences. He trekked 500 miles through Yellowstone to write Walking Down the Wild (Simon & Schuster), spent a season in the field at a wilderness therapy program for Shouting at the Sky (St. Martin's Press), journeyed 250 miles on foot for Hawks Rest, and followed through the seasons the first 14 wolves released into Yellowstone National Park for The Yellowstone Wolves: The First Year (Globe Pequot). "I learn best by doing, " Ferguson says, "especially if the doing is at the edge of my comfort zone. That's where I find the kinds of lessons that make the world seem new again." Gary's keynote presentations, on the other hand, are meant to bring to light the mythology, psychology, and cultural history that have long inspired human perspectives of nature - from the days of the ancients, right into modern times." Ferguson first answered the call to adventure at age 12, loading up his purple sting-ray bike with camping gear and riding with his older brother through the central Midwest. By age 18, bicycles had given way to boxcars and backpacks, as he made his way across North America by rail and by thumb—as often than not heading west, and heading for mountains. After working as an interpretive naturalist for the Forest Service, at age 25 he plunged full-time into the freelance writing life. Soon thereafter his work found a home in the national media—both his personal profiles of American nature, as well as a wide range of social and environmental stories from Europe, Africa and North America.
John Francis was in his twenties when a 1971 oil spill in San Francisco Bay jarred his comfortable life. Even as he joined the volunteers who scrubbed the beaches and fought to save birds and sea creatures poisoned by petroleum, he felt the need to make a deeper, more personal commitment. As an affirmation of his responsibility to our planet, he chose to stop using motorized vehicles and began walking wherever he went. His decision was greeted with surprise, disbelief, and even mockery—but it was only the start of a much deeper transformation. A few months later he took a vow of silence that would last seventeen years. He founded Planetwalk in 1982 when he began his walking and sailing pilgrimage around the world. To date, Dr. Francis has walked across the U.S., sailed and walked through the Caribbean, and South America from Venezuela to Argentina and a walk in Cuba. Today Planetwalk consults on sustainable development and works with educational groups to teach kids about the environment. He is the author of Planet Walker, 22 Years of Walking 17 Years of Silence.
A proud product of south central Los Angeles, Juan D. Martinez is the national Natural Leaders Network coordinator for the Children & Nature Network. His passion to empower individuals and youth led him to direct Sierra Club’s first environmental justice youth leadership academy in Los Angeles. In 2009, Juan introduced Department of Interior’s Ken Salazar at Powershift in Washington, DC, the largest youth gathering on climate change, and he was invited by the White House to attend the National Forum on Clean Energy Economy. A keynote speaker at the 2010 Outdoor Retailers Winter Show in Salt Lake City, Utah, Juan received a standing ovation following his presentation. In 2006, Juan was a delegate to the Latino Congreso, the largest gathering of Latino key figures in the U.S. and he is included in “Hispanics Living Green.” Publication of the book was celebrated in March 2010 with a Congressional reception in Washington, DC.
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