In his essay, “The Extinction of Experience,” Robert Michael Pyle uses metaphor to describe two very different approaches to engaging nature: the Brown pelican dives into the ocean with its whole body when seeking a fish, but the Black skimmer gracefully flies along the surface of the sea, fishing with only its bottom beak in the water. Pyle says human engagement of nature often reflects the style of one bird or the other:
“In my view, most people who consider themselves nature lovers behave more like skimmers than pelicans. They buy the right outfits at L.L. Bean and Eddie Bauer, carry field guides, and take walks on nature trails, reading all the interpretive signs. They watch the nature programs on television, shop at the Nature Company, and pay their dues to the National Wildlife Federation or the National Audubon Society. These activities are admirable, but they do not ensure truly intimate contact with nature. Many such "naturalists" merely skim, reaping a shallow reward....How can we engage our biophilia?”
In the conservation field, we work with people on a daily basis. We may interact in different capacities – some of us in large office complexes, some of us in the field or on a refuge. How do you leverage these interactions to cultivate your own inner pelican? In what ways are you helping others shift beyond “skimming” nature so they can more deeply connect with what’s wild?