Being ‘In tune with nature’ is how I have always thought of myself. I was born and grew up in a forested area of Central Germany. My first friends and earliest playmates were animals. The wild birds coming for seed at our windowsills had names, and as a child I was convinced that the birds knew the names I had given them.

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Todd and Svetlana Esposito
Todd grew up playing sports since before he can remember, playing baseball and soccer on a regular basis. This entailed a lot of time spent in parks. As he got older and the dream of being a professional athlete became just a dream, Todd picked up long distance running. And, if you want to run long distance, you need to find green areas. Running became Todd’s passion and avenue to connect with nature on a daily/weekly basis—his own ‘personal Tibet’. For 20+ years, running and nature have become an integral part of Todd’s life. A balance in a normally hectic world.

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Sylvie Binder
Fencing sensation Sylvie Binder of Armonk, New York is an eighth grader with initiative! She is ranked 10th in the country within her age group and has won numerous national competitions. In early 2012, Sylvie took the opportunity to blend her love for fencing with her love of the environment.

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John DeVore
Donor John DeVore shares some of the experiences that have inspired him to support conservation and The Conservation Fund’s work. 

What are those moments that make us most appreciate our parks and preserved land?

Usually it is a view of a magnificent mountain range, or maybe a close up visit to a cascading waterfall, or just being on an isolated path with the knowledge that maybe no one is around for miles, or for at least for one mile. But sometimes it is something as simple as a brief interchange between human and animal that most invigorates us.

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I have such vivid memories of many great outdoor places. While school and home meant being indoors, the outdoors meant excitement and freedom. And every family vacation had a national park or two as the destination.

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Tom Stults
My most enduring memories all come from time spent outdoors. My favorite outdoor place is the Sleeping Bear Dunes lakeshore in Michigan, which is actually a place that The Conservation Fund helped to protect. My family has been spending summers there for nearly 75 years, and to me it remains among the most beautiful places I’ve been. The area’s pristine lakes, rolling dunes, peaceful forests and postcard shorelines taught me an early lesson about the value of our natural assets—not only for their own sake, but also for the well-being of the surrounding communities and beyond.

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My father was an avid outdoorsmen and he took my sisters and me out hiking and backpacking from an early age. I’m 73 and I still hike and still enjoy exploring scenic and wild places. I have a long history of enjoying the outdoors and want to see the scenic outdoors endure for other generations.

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I grew up in a small town in East Tennessee, and spent nearly all my time in the summers running around in the woods. When I was old enough I started backpacking, canoeing, tubing the Hiwassee and rafting the Ocoee.

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Dan Wilensky
I grew up in northern California, and spent most of my time outdoors. California’s natural resources were (and still are) spectacular. As a kid, my family frequented Mount Tamalpais, Yosemite, Tahoe, the Redwood Forest, the Sierra Foothills and various lakes and small farms. I have fond memories of river rafting, hiking, and drinking fresh spring water in the mountains. Tilden Park (in the East Bay) was practically in my back yard, and they have their wonderful Little Farm, various nature programs, and day camps for kids. By the time I was 3, I had a pretty deep appreciation for what nature had to offer.

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Molly Zucchet
After learning about a number of environmental issues in school, this motivated third grader decided she wanted to do something to make a difference.

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