|Ellie M. Cohen. Photo by Nadav Nur, PRBO.|
While we mourn him, we also celebrate and recognize the vitality of his life’s work. Rich was a true conservation hero. He taught so many of us about the beauty and magic of birds, dragonflies, lizards, snakes, and so much else in the natural world. He was only a teenager in the early 1960s when he helped envision establishing Point Reyes Bird Observatory. Then, at age 20, Rich was hired as one of our first biologists.
Life After Death
These things I know:
how the living go on living
and how the dead go on living
so that in a forest
even a dead tree casts a shadow
and the leaves fall one by one
and the branches break in the wind
and the bark peels off slowly
and the trunk cracks
and the rain seeps in through the cracks
and the trunk falls to the ground
and the moss covers it
and in the spring the rabbits find it
and build their nest
inside the dead tree
so that nothing is wasted in nature
or in love.
by Laura Gilpin
PRBO has since grown into an internationally recognized conservation science leader, with an annual budget of $10 million supporting 140 staff and seasonal scientists. Working from the Sierra to the sea and from Alaska to Antarctica, we have quadrupled in size over the past dozen years. Our success is due in no small part to Rich’s decades of commitment and engagement.
Yet there is so much more to do, to make measurable progress towards our highest priority of reducing the impacts of accelerating climate change, habitat degradation, and other stressors on wildlife, ecosystems, and people.
A critical strategy to achieve this urgent goal is to significantly improve how we communicate what we do—to expand our base of support, influence key decision makers, and reach a broader audience. To that end, over the past year-and-a-half our Board of Directors and staff have engaged in a process to assess our core values, unique strengths, and external brand. Our conclusion: we will change our organizational name, revamp and modernize our website, and greatly enhance our public outreach efforts.
We will be finalizing our new name and graphics in the coming months, and we will update you with more details soon. With these changes, our mission remains constant: to conserve birds, other wildlife, and ecosystems through innovative scientific research, restoration, outreach, and partnerships.
A mighty tree has fallen, but this fallen tree “goes on living” through us all—as a poem by Laura Gilpin movingly depicts (see sidebar). Thank you for being part of the PRBO family as we rededicate ourselves to continuing and building upon Rich’s remarkable legacy, with passion, joy, and love for all things wild.