Updated: May 19, 2013 7:23PM
“Take care of the Earth and she will take care of you.”
— Author unknown
When I was attending Northwestern in 1977, I met my pledge daughter, Kim Louis Stewart, daughter of Josephine Louis of Winnetka and the late Ambassador John Louis. After we graduated, Kim became an accomplished cinematographer, and she’s now known for her work on a spectacular IMAX production about migration and flying called “On the Wing.” Kim’s lifelong love for conservation eventually landed her on the board of ARKive, a global conservation tool available for free on the Internet.
Over the past 10 years, ARKive has built a vast, unique and dynamic treasury of global wildlife media, including film, photography and biological fact files. The organization has built this “nature media vault” to provide students with free educational resources and to create new educational programs.
In Kim’s words, “ARKive holds the potential to nurture a global understanding, and therefore, create a wave of change in recent human behavior toward nature. With its remarkable content and reach, ARKive has the capability to help reawaken our natural human instincts to see, to listen, to honor and to love this miracle of life on planet Earth before it’s too late — before we lose it.”
Kim and I have remained close friends for 30 years, and I’m constantly amazed by her work. About four years ago, during a visit to Kim’s home in Scotland, Kim told me that ARKive asked her to spearhead a fundraising effort in the U.S. Living abroad, she feared it would be difficult. Without hesitation, I volunteered to start the fundraising initiative in Chicago.
I’ve always had a deep appreciation for the natural world. My husband Chris and I have lived on a pond for more than 30 years. Living on a pond in the Midwest allows us to observe the cycles of life as each season comes and goes. We were fortunate to raise our boys with nature developing before their very eyes. To me, watching the natural world is a form of meditation; Mother Nature brings calm to my soul.
This is what drives our efforts to raise funds for ARKive. Reading about conservation can teach us a lot, but ARKive’s rich, beautiful images and vivid, intriguing cinematography can entice and enliven the learning experience. ARKive’s available media is built from the best sources in the world: the BBC, Discovery Channel, Google Earth and National Geographic photographs. Its tools compliment what conservation organizations, zoos, aquariums, museums and schools do to teach students about endangered species and their threatened environments.
We recently became grandparents, and seeing the world through the eyes of a child really provides a unique perspective. I believe that ARKive creates an opportunity to enrich our children and grandchildren’s learning experience. Children are our future. If we have any chance of taking care of the Earth, we have to educate our youth so she will take care of them.
Support ARKive by attending “Fill the ARK in Illinois.” 6 p.m. Monday, May 20, The Racquet Club of Chicago (1364 N. Dearborn). Tickets ($500 +) can be purchased by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (630) 752-9661.