Animal Planet star spreads ecological awareness

Naturalist Jeff Corwin hoped to provide students with a glimpse into his personality.

"On television, they look at you as a one-dimensional character," Corwin said in a speech Wednesday in Student Center Cardinal Hall. "I thought I could better define myself as a wildlife biologist and naturalist by speaking."

Fostering his childhood love for serpents and other animals, Corwin's affection toward wildlife and the world's many ecosystems permeated the atmosphere he set last night. One goal he aimed for was proving his friendly image to be more than a commercial farce.

Ball State freshman Todd Starkey, father of two, said Corwin's personality delves far deeper than the image on television. Todd and his children, Thomas and Shelby, view the show regularly.

"It's one of the few shows I can let them watch without worrying about it," Starkey said. "I wanted my kids to see that he's not just an actor and that being a scientist is something they can pursue."

After citing multiple examples of field experience with snake bites and being pelted with monkey scat, he pronounced his dedication to naturalism. Comparing his work with Charles Darwin and other naturalists, he established his uniqueness through the dedication to newer media for information dispersion.

"Naturalists in their pure form find ways to engage their audience and share information," Corwin said. "They build a bridge to make information more digestible for the most important people: the consumers."

Emphasizing his history in wildlife biology, he addressed the issue of rain forests. He listed four major contributions to the detriment of the world's tropical forested environments: agriculture, homesteading, ranching and mineral excavation.

As big as he may have portrayed the problem to be, Corwin believes conservation from the home is the solution to this problem.

While television proves to be a powerful medium with which Corwin can communicate to others, he advocates that local help is sometimes the most effective way to help the environment.

Citing the issue of conservation of farm land and room for migratory birds in Indiana, he strongly believes in conservation at the closest level - home.

The success stories of North American bald eagles, alligators and buffalos bring him to continue working toward achieving his optimistic outlook on the environment.

"Although there's great damage to the environment, I've learned that nature is very resilient," Jeff said. "We share that drive to survive with all other animals."


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