Last Saturday in Worcester, more than 550 people attended the Massachusetts Land Conservation Conference, which Mass Audubon is a primary sponsor of, and participant in. This is the annual gathering of the wicked-awesome Massachusetts land conservation community – private and public land conservationists, both paid and volunteer, and working at all levels. With the bay state being the place where the concept of conserving land for the common good began nearly 400 years ago, and also where the land trust movement emerged in the 1890s, this annual event is the biggest of its kind in the U.S., and almost certainly the entire planet as well.
This year’s conference was extra special, for one simple reason: those attending had the pleasure of an audience with one of their biggest heroes – biologist E.O. Wilson. Professor Wilson is revered by this group in part because his unrelenting curiosity to explore and understand nature inspired so many to pursue careers in the natural sciences. His now well-known, and utterly audacious, call to conserve half of the earth’s land mass in order to preserve biological diversity on this planet has inspired and motivated nearly everyone in the audience – and thousands of others that were unable to make it to the event – to strive to have maximal impact. But perhaps more important to this group of dedicated tree-huggers, Ed Wilson has played a key role in validating – for themselves, for their families, and for their neighbors and friends – what attendees had chosen to do with their lives. After years of routinely getting blank stares after answering the question of what they did for work, they now answer loud and proud. Thank you, E.O. Wilson!