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Turn the page on nature with Wild Reads
5/13/2011 Volume XLIV, No. 19

Before you know it, you’ll be toes in the sand, listening to the gentle ebb and flow of waves at the Jersey Shore.  Naturally, you’ll need a good book to read. Or maybe you’re a parent looking to engage your teen in reading. There’s no time like the present to launch your summer reading list, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s America’s WILD READ program can help.

Actually, America’s WILD READ is more than a reading list.  It’s a new “virtual book club” aimed at encouraging readers to connect with nature.  You don’t have to read outside, but you might be inspired to do so!

The virtual book club, which uses a blog format, begins with Anthill by Edward O. Wilson, the Harvard professor and noted ecologist who coined the term “biodiversity.” Anthill is a coming-of-age tale that traces how a deeper understanding of nature shapes the future of a boy following a summer in rural Alabama.  It draws on Wilson’s systematic study of ants and their behavior.

In addition, America’s WILD READ will examine two essays: “Thinking Like a Mountain” by Aldo Leopold, an early founder of the land conservation movement, and “Once and Future Land Ethic” by Dr. Curt Meine, senior fellow at the Aldo Leopold Foundation.  “Thinking Like a Mountain” is a chapter from Leopold’s classic book, A Sand County Almanac.

Online discussions will be moderated by conservation writers, scholars and poets.  Check out the virtual book club’s website,,for more details.

The program will culminate during the week of July 10, when the National Wildlife Refuge System will unveil a new 10-year vision, “ Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation,” at a conference near Aldo Leopold’s family home in Wisconsin.  A live WILD READ discussion will be held, for readers who attend in person or online.

Whether or not you join the virtual book club, start your summer nature reading now! Here are some ideas:

Rachel Carson’s wonderful book on the ocean,The Sea Around Us, is perfect beach reading.  Carson is best known for Silent Spring by, a groundbreaking work about the side effects of pesticides that led to important changes in environmental law. Written in a style often described as poetic,The Sea Around Us fosters an appreciation for the ecosystems within and around the world’s oceans and seas.
Another great book is Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. If you are looking for a compelling story, this tragic tale of the American West will not disappoint.  It is rich in reminders that people and land are connected, and severing those connections can have dire consequences indeed.

For the financially concerned, try The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability by Paul Hawken. The false idea that business has to choose between profit and environmental protection is reinforced over and over in today’s political climate.  Hawken proposes a new, sustainable business model that is already gaining traction at corporations like Nike.

The Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Ray is another must-read. It’s a fascinating story of growing up as the daughter of a junkyard owner in southern Georgia’s longleaf pines, and the relationship between families and nature.

These are but a few of the many works of fiction and non-fiction with a focus on ecology. Ask your local librarian or search the internet for more ideas, and launch a summer nature reading program of your own! 

And if you’d like more information about conserving New Jersey’s precious land and natural resources, please visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s website at or contact me at



'Trees don't vote' but Byrne saved Pine Barrens anyway

Governor-elect Murphy should set new course on the environment

Protect soils to keep the garden in our state

Clean, plentiful water is New Jersey's lifeblood

A breath of fresh air for New Jersey?

Keep Liberty State Park free and open

A green agenda for Governor-elect Murphy

Life, liberty ... and a clean environment

New Jersey's aging water infrastructure

The land before time: NJ's Kittatinny Ridge & Valley

While bats hibernate, scientists hope for survival

Natural Resource Damages fund new parks and preserves

Save menhaden, a humble but mighty fish

Ballot question approval would lock in environmental funds

Sandy Millspaugh: Conservation Trailblazer

Extreme hurricanes highlight concerns about climate change

'Head start' for corn snakes

Protecting the Highlands - it's the water

When you could walk from New Jersey to Morocco

A bold plan for the planet

New Jersey's energy future at a crossroads

Tiny insect will have a huge impact on New Jersey

Protect New Jersey's Pine Barrens

Enjoy New Jersey's forests!

Maine-to-Florida urban trail celebrates 25 years

Rare plants and animals need help!

Ban offshore drilling and seismic testing off NJ coast!

Summertime and the digging is easy

Is the elusive bobcat here to stay?

NJ water supply plan rings alarm bells

NJ's Piedmont: Formed by volcanoes and erosion

Defend public health and safety in state budget

'Magical' early 17-year cicadas

June and open space: Perfect together

Hit the trails on June 3, National Trails Day

Socializing with nature

Preserve land - and state's in lieu of taxes program

New Jersey's 'marl' pits yield dinosaur discoveries

Vernal pools: Now you see 'em, now you don't

State targets illegal dumpers in parks and forests

Former governors and elected leaders stand up for environment

Join CSAs to support local farms, save money, eat better

Weather extremes may be New Jersey's new normal

Bald eagles and ospreys rebound in New Jersey

Pine Barrens prescribed fires: A renewal force

Take a walk on the bottom of the sea!

Energy efficiency saves money and land - and creates jobs!

The Pines of March

Trees are more social than you think!

New Jersey's geological 'layer cake'


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