By Roberta Kravette
On May 19th, we celebrated the life of Jim Fowler, one of the world’s most influential conservationists, at the Explorers Club, where he served many posts, including Honorary Chair and Honorary President.
Hordes of kids, myself included, first “met” Jim Fowler in our pajamas watching Wild Kingdom on Sunday night (1963-1988). For the vast majority of us, that half-hour every week was our first introduction to the natural world. (Some of us also sneaked peaks while our parents watched his numerous visits to the Johnny Carson show. Don’t tell!)
Jim Fowler lead us kids on explorations from Africa to the Amazon to the Arctic and beyond, discovering these worlds and the amazing creatures that inhabited them. Jim Fowler lit the future path for a lot of our lives. As his son, Mark Fowler said in a telephone interview with the New York Times, All the heads of all the N.G.O.s that are out there saving wildlife, they all tell me, ‘He’s the reason I do this.’ I believe it.
While many of Fowler’s scenes on Wild Kingdom were a little more interactive than we might see today, they were always combined with real information and respect for the animal.
A Life Guided By Six Simple Tenets
On Sunday one of the speakers remembered that Fowler was raised as a Quaker. She went on to say that his life was guided by the Quaker “testimonies” or commitments of integrity, equality, simplicity, community, stewardship of the earth, and peace.
All of us gathered in those overflowing rooms concurred, but from the evidence produced in the form of endless stories, Jim Fowler had one more outstanding quality: A sense of humor. Jim Fowler was as famous for his jokes (often at his own expense) and hearty laugh as he was for his kindness, knowledge, and adventurous spirit.
A Life’s Mission and a Legacy Carried Forward
In an interview with the Boston Globe in 1997, Fowler stated, “The real challenge today is to affect the public’s attitude and make them care.” Jim Fowler did that in spades.
Jim Fowler’s legacy carries on in the critical work of his son, Mark. Mark Fowler, a dedicated conservationist, is Nature Initiative Director at Grace Farms in New Canaan, Ct. Mark works closely with international governments and law enforcement agencies to combat wildlife trafficking. Mark also serves as Vice President of Wildlife and Conservation at the Explorers Club. and, like his dad, is devoted to inspiring the public to experience the awe and wonder of nature.
What is the Value of Nature and Wildlife
By Mark Fowler
Bringing Nature to the People, Grace Farms & Mark Fowler.
An Interview with Mark Fowler.
It’s Time to Change the World. The Story of Responsible Tourism
By Roberta Kravette