Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Proud to be a Tree Hugger

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a Park Ranger when I grew up. I envisioned myself in deep forest green, protecting wildlife and wandering in the woods. My Ranger Rick magazine was eagerly anticipated each month, and I envied the kids in the ads for summer camps in the national parks. Grizzly Adams was one of my favorite TV shows; who couldn’t love a guy out who lived out in the woods and had a bear for a best friend?

As I got older, my career goals changed, influenced by dance lessons and theatre rehearsals. And I realized in high school that the science classes I would need to save the environment weren’t my strongpoint – I excelled all things creative – a very different path.

Although my job has never been environmentally related, I have retained my love of nature. My husband calls me a tree hugger, a term he jokingly uses as a slam but one I embrace wholeheartedly. Oh, if only the world were full of tree huggers, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in.

But my purpose for this blog is not to incite anger or to begin a political debate, so I will only generalize my urge to protect the environment. I just hope there are people out there who feel as I do. Does the oil spill in the Gulf make you feel panicked like me? Do you get angry when you see people filling up their grocery carts with plastic bags of food? What about the population increase that is slowly taking over the planet, sucking up its natural resources – the very things we need to survive? Does that worry you?

I believe it should. This isn’t an issue of saving a couple of animals or trying to have a Suzy Sunshine outlook on the world. We have one planet - only one - and I’m afraid that everyone else won’t join in my panic until it’s too late. We need a sense of urgency - for the species of animals that will eventually be gone – for the oceans that are our trash cans – for the wide open spaces that will no longer be.

Sometimes when we walk George at night, my husband points out the fake grass in some of the neighbors’ yards and laughs at me when I say I hate it. And yes, that fake grass is saving water. But the reason I hate it is because for me, it’s a scary omen of our future. Fake grass. Fake trees. Fake animals. And all of these as our only option – not as our choice.

Our planet can only take so much. We humans have to make smart choices now, before it’s too late. And I’m talking about more than just recycling a few cans or using reusable grocery bags – while good, those are just a drop in the bucket. I think we all need to look at the big picture and start to panic a little.

Okay, now I will step off my soapbox.


  1. Shannon, your missive is well stated and right on the mark. We should all follow your lead, step up to our individual soap boxes, pound our fists and shout out loud the same messages you just did. Well done, dearie. Well done.

  2. Hi Shannon,
    I agree with you totally! Good blog.

    And thanks for the Ranger Rick mention.
    Our magazine still trucks on, all these years later, thanks to loyal readers of old who subscribe for their kids, nieces, nephews, and grandkids! We appreciate bloggers like you who give us a shout-out!

    With warmest wishes,
    Libby Schleichert, Sr. Editor
    Ranger Rick Magazine
    National Wildlife Federation
    Reston, Virginia

    Follow me on Twitter: @epschleichert
    See our Website: