Jeff Corwin doesn’t think his roles as a conservationist and an entertainer conflict.
Instead, the popular wildlife biologist and TV host sees both jobs as essential to raising awareness about the dangers of habitat loss and climate change and encouraging people — young and old — to act swiftly in combating it.
Corwin sat down with The Spectrum before his appearance as part of the 35th Distinguished Speaker Series to talk about conservation and his ABC show, “Wildlife Nation”:
The Spectrum: Why is it important for UB students to learn and care about environmentalism? Why are you talking to this audience in particular?
Jeff Corwin: “This is a great audience because of the importance of the Buffalo community, the student community and everyone who lives in this area. We know the role that this community has played in industry and politics and history. There’s an important message to be shared here just about where we are today at ensuring that the next generation inherits a biologically rich and healthy planet. It’s in doubt that we will be successful, unfortunately. I very much enjoy these programs because I spend most of my year on the road, filming and being in remote areas. This is a chance for me to interact with people and share [my] thoughts. There are opportunities to highlight the avenues of hope and inspiration that could instill an interest in someone to be a part of the solution.”
TS: For your career, you travel a lot, do you consider your traveling to be sustainable?
JC: “Yes, because I live very sustainably. I have a very limited carbon footprint and walk just about everywhere I go. So although I must travel a lot, and there’s some carbon exchange there, when I live my life I try to do it in a way where most of the resources that we get are regionally based. I live on a little island in New England, we have a farm and until recently we had bees and chickens … I try to live a sustainable life and it’s very important to me. I feel that my mission is to share those stories when I’m on the road. The conservation stories and experts and heroes that I cover in my series, particularly my Wildlife Nation series, which is all about North American wildlife habitats.”
TS: How do you stay optimistic when you hear about endangered wildlife and dramatic climate change?
JC: “I think that my positivity and hopefulness come from people who are doing incredible things. We can look at our history and see where we’ve taken species that we thought were extinct and recovered them, like the black-footed ferret. Sixty years ago there were only 648 Bald Eagles in the lower 48 [states] and today there are tens of thousands. Wild turkeys and deer — so many species that were compromised have recovered. Those successes allow us to weather the storm of our challenges and our failures. You can go to places not far from here where you can see wilderness and wild species and intact ecosystems. Not so long ago, they might not have been there. Where I live in New England, the waters are healthier now than they were a century ago. So through the lens of uncertainty, we have to focus on those successes, small and big.”
Julie Frey is a senior news/features editor and can be reached at email@example.com
Justin Weiss is the managing editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Justin Weiss is The Spectrum's managing editor. In his free time, he can be found hiking, playing baseball or throwing things at his TV when his sports teams aren't winning. His words have appeared in Elite Sports New York and the Long Island Herald. He can be found on Twitter @Jwmlb1.
Julie Frey is a senior news/features editor at The Spectrum. She is a political science and environmental studies double major. She enjoys theorizing about Taylor Swift, the color yellow and reading books that make her cry. She can be found on Twitter @juliannefrey.