Throughout history, women have made significant contributions in the fields of conservation, environmental activism and science. In honor of Women’s History Month, read on to learn more about some of these women:
- Harriet Hemenway and Minna Hall helped create a movement to boycott feather hats and inspired legislation that led to the Migratory Bird Act, now one of the oldest wildlife protection laws on the books and one that continues to protect migratory birds.
- Rachel Carson, considered the mother of the modern environmental movement, challenged the notion of humans “mastering” the earth and focused attention on how humans impact nature.
- Marjory Stoneman Douglas an author and conservationist, opened people’s eyes to the beauty of the Florida Everglades and campaigned tirelessly to restore this unique natural treasure.
- Sylvia Earle, a prominent marine biologist, has highlighted the devastating impacts of overfishing and pollution on the oceans and is an ambassador for the healthy preservation of the world’s oceans.
- Robin Wall Kimmerer, professor of environmental and forest biology and member of the Citizen Potawatomi nation, melds both her scientific understanding and cultural heritage into her work.
- Terry Tempest Williams is the author of more than a dozen books focused on the link between environmental and social issues.
- Carolyn Finney, professor and geographer, is an author who bridges the fields of environmental history, cultural studies, critical race studies, and geography.
- Audrey Peterman, speaker, consultant and author, writes and speaks about breaking barriers and the integration of nature for all people.
While these women represent different backgrounds and skillsets, they have all shared a passion and commitment to positively impacting nature and people. These are only a few of the women who have influenced and continue to shape the fields of conservation, environmental activism and science. Interested in learning more?Check out the books below:
- She’s Wearing a Dead Bird on Her Head! by Katheryn Lasky and David Catrow, about the work of Harriet Hemenway and Minna Hall
- Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
- The Everglades: River of Grass by Marjory Stoneman Douglas
- Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams
- Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans by Sylvia Earle
- Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
- Black Faces, White Spaces by Carolyn Finney
- Legacy on the Land by Audrey Peterman and Frank Peterman
Make an Impact on Nature
Feeling inspired, and interested in becoming a conservation leader? The Forest Preserves of Cook County offers numerous opportunities to get involved in making our communities healthier. Check out the options below, or consider simply visiting and exploring a preserve to let nature inspire you on how to make a difference.
Conservation Corps – Conservation Corps programs provide paid, hands-on experiences to participants from across Cook County’s diverse communities—including those with barriers to employment.
Volunteer – Volunteers play a key role in protecting nature in our preserves, and we can use more help. Consider joining a volunteer workday, help out at educational programs and special events, or join our Trail Watch team. There are opportunities for individuals, groups and families.
Create Your Own Adventure – The Forest Preserves’ nearly 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful offer ample opportunities to escape life’s hustle and bustle for an hour, a day or even a night. Forest Preserves visitors can feel free to boldly explore 300 miles of trails, learn about archery, visit a Nature Center, pitch a tent at one of five campgrounds, or enjoy hundreds of free programs and events.
The book recommendations expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Forest Preserves of Cook County.