January 27 — National Geographic Society Incorporated (1888)

When I was a middle-schooler (or the equivalent, since Chicago didn’t have middle schools in 1960), I waited eagerly for every issue of National Geographic.   That magazine took me to faraway places filled with exotic plants, animals, people and landscapes—and taught me to want to protect and conserve them. Educated and cultured homes in those […]

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February 2 — Groundhog Day

Perhaps it’s a stretch to call this a conservation event—but Groundhog Day, celebrated on February 2, makes this humble rodent one of the most famous of wildlife species. Groundhog Day has a long history, connected to both pagan and Christian traditions.  In Christian tradition, February 2, the 40th day after Christmas, is Candlemas.  Candlemas represents […]

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February 1 — Afobaka Dam and Operation Gwamba (1964)

The Afobaka Dam, in the South American country of Suriname, was closed officially on February 1, 1964.  It began filling the Brokopondo Reservoir behind it, making the 41st largest reservoir in the world by surface area (approximately 580 square miles).  It covers about 1% of the land area of Suriname, which is South America’s smallest […]

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January 31 — Stewart Udall, Secretary of Interior, Born (1920)

Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, was born on January 31, 1920 (died 2010).  Udall is considered one of the most effective leaders of the nation’s primary land management agency during the environmentally active years of the 1960s and 1970s. Udall came from a family with […]

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January 30 — England Claims Antarctica (1820)

On January 30, 1820, Edward Bransfield, a British seaman, landed on the continent of Antarctica, the first known person to do so.  He claimed the continent for the British Empire.  But that isn’t how the story ends. In truth, no one knows who was the first person to set foot on Antarctica.  Polynesian fishermen and […]

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January 26 — Benjamin Franklin Disses the Bald Eagle (1784)

The Bald Eagle is our nation’s symbol.  But Benjamin Franklin didn’t like it.  Or so he wrote to his daughter, Sally Bache, in a letter on January 26, 1784. Designing the national seal for the newly formed United States of America was a serious concern.  So serious that a committee to create the design was […]

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