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Darling, Jay Norwood (21 October 1876–12 February 1962), political cartoonist and conservationist, known as “Ding,” was born in Norwood, Michigan, the son of the Reverend Marcellus Warner Darling, a public school administrator and Congregational minister, and Clara R. Woolson. Darling grew up from the age of ten in Sioux City, Iowa, a frontier community surrounded by prairie teeming with wildlife. He spent many days and nights hunting, fishing, camping, and horseback riding in the pristine natural bounty that provided what he described as the “pleasantest recollections” of his long and eventful life....

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Douglas, William O. (16 October 1898–19 January 1980), U.S. Supreme Court justice, New Deal administrator, and environmentalist, was born William Orville Douglas in Maine, Minnesota, near the North Dakota border, the son of Julia Fisk and William Douglas, a Presbyterian minister. The family moved to southern California in 1901 and then to eastern Washington, near Yakima, a year later....

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Grinnell, George Bird (20 September 1849–11 April 1938), conservationist and ethnographer, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of George Blake Grinnell, a businessman, and Helen Alvord Lansing. Grinnell grew up in an upper-class home and lived in several locations in his earliest years: Brooklyn, lower Manhattan, and Weehawken, New Jersey. In 1857 the family moved to “Audubon Park,” the former estate of artist-naturalist ...

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Hornaday, William Temple (01 December 1854–06 March 1937), conservationist and naturalist, was born near Plainfield, Indiana, the son of William Hornaday and Martha Varner Miller, farmers. When he was three, his family moved to Knoxville, Iowa. Although lacking a high school education, he enrolled at Oskaloosa College in 1870 for a program of preparatory studies. In the spring of 1872 he became a freshman at Iowa State Agricultural College. After working in the museum at Iowa State, Hornaday became committed to becoming a taxidermist, a program of study that was not offered by this college. In November 1873 he obtained a position at the nation’s center for the practice of taxidermy at ...

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Lowdermilk, Walter Clay (01 July 1888–06 May 1974), soil scientist, geologist, soil conservation leader, and author, was born Walter Clay Lowdermilk in Liberty, North Carolina, the son of Henry Clay Lowdermilk, a businessman, lumberman, and rancher, and Helen Vashti Lawrence Lowdermilk. The family moved westward to Missouri, to Oklahoma, and finally to Arizona. Walter Lowdermilk graduated from the Park College Academy in Parkville, Missouri, in 1906 and then attended Park College (1908–1910). In 1910 he enrolled at the University of Arizona; after two years there he won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, where he earned a B.S. degree in forestry (1914); a B.A. degree in geology (1915); and an M.A. degree, granted in abstentia (1922). While at Oxford he had an opportunity to study forestry in Germany. He also served on ...

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Marsh, George Perkins (15 March 1801–23 July 1882), scholar, politician, and diplomat, was born in Woodstock, Vermont, the son of Charles Marsh, a prominent lawyer, and Susan Perkins. The Marshes were among New England’s aristocracy of Puritan intellectuals. Woodstock, unlike western Vermont of the free-spirited Green Mountain Boys, was a town of law-abiding, substantial settlers, conservative in religion and politics. George, in a milieu of book lovers, became an avid reader, although a lifelong eye ailment periodically forced him to turn from the printed page to the outdoor world. As a child, with his father or friends, he observed firsthand the effects of deforestation in early Vermont settlements, the decline of fish in the rivers, and the destruction of precious topsoil....

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Muir, John (21 April 1838–24 December 1914), naturalist, conservationist, and writer, was born in Dunbar, Scotland, the son of Daniel Muir and Anne Gilrye, farmers. He was educated in Dunbar’s common school and by his father’s insistence that he memorize a Bible chapter every day. With his father and two siblings, John migrated to Wisconsin in 1849; the rest of the family soon followed. On the family’s homestead near Portage, Daniel worked John, just entering his teens, as if he were an adult field hand, inflicting corporal punishment; John Muir later believed that this hard farm labor stunted his growth. The boy’s escape was to devour every book that he came across, and when his father forbade his reading at night, he devised a sort of wooden alarm clock attached to his bed. This “early-rising machine” awakened him very early in the morning, and he would read until it was time for his exhausting chores....

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Newell, Frederick Haynes (05 March 1862–05 July 1932), engineer, was born in Bradford, Pennsylvania, the son of Augustus William Newell and Annie Maria Haynes. His mother died while he was a child, and he was raised by unmarried aunts in Newton, Massachusetts, where he completed high school. In 1885 he graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a B.S. in mining engineering. He married Effie Josephine Mackintosh in 1890; the couple had three children....

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Pinchot, Gifford (11 August 1865–04 October 1946), forester, conservationist, and governor of Pennsylvania, was born in Simsbury, Connecticut, the son of James Wallace Pinchot, a wealthy merchant, and Mary Jane Eno. Proud of his French ancestry, James W. Pinchot raised his family in a primly decorous but brilliant social environment steeped in French culture....

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Saylor, John Phillips (23 July 1908–28 October 1973), conservationist, was born on a farm near Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the son of Tillman Saylor, an attorney, and Minerva Phillips Saylor, a former schoolteacher. After graduating from Johnstown High School at age sixteen Saylor attended Mercersburg Academy in south central Pennsylvania, a college preparatory school for boys. He struggled academically but nonetheless was accepted at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. After graduating in 1928, he went on to law school at the University of Michigan but left that program to attend Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, from 1930 to 1933. On graduation, he joined his father's law firm and in 1937 married Johnstown schoolteacher Grace Doerstler. They had two children. In 1942 Saylor joined the navy. He served as a communications officer aboard the U.S.S. ...

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Udall, Morris K. (15 June 1922–12 December 1998), congressman, environmental leader, and presidential candidate, nicknamed "Mo", congressman, environmental leader, and presidential candidate, nicknamed “Mo,” was born Morris King Udall in St. Johns, Arizona, the son of Levi S. Udall, a Mormon leader and later chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, and Louise Lee Udall. He was the fourth of six children. At age six, he lost his right eye while playing with a knife. His handicap proved to be hardly an obstacle as he became a star athlete, editor of the school paper, and student body president. Udall attended the University of Arizona in Tucson from 1941 to 1942 but left to enter the U.S. Army in World War II, rising to captain in the Army Air Forces. He commanded an all-black squadron while based in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Returning to the university in 1946, he pursued a law degree and earned honors as an all-Border Conference basketball player. He played professional basketball for the Denver Nuggets in the 1947–1948 season. In 1949 he married Patricia J. Emery; they would have six children and divorce in 1966....

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Van Hise, Charles Richard (29 May 1857–19 November 1918), geologist, conservationist, and university president, was born near Fulton, in southern Wisconsin, the son of William Henry Van Hise, a farmer and storekeeper, and Mary Goodrich. The family moved to nearby Evansville in 1870. In 1874 Van Hise entered the University of Wisconsin, beginning a lifelong association with this institution. He received four degrees, bachelor of metallurgical engineering (1879), B.S. (1880), M.S. (1882), and in 1892 the first Ph.D. awarded at the University of Wisconsin. In 1879 he joined the faculty as an instructor. Two years later he married Alice Ring, also of Evansville; they had three children....

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Wright, Mabel Osgood (26 January 1859–16 July 1934), naturalist and author, was born in New York City, the daughter of Samuel Osgood, a Unitarian minister, and Ellen Haswell Murdock. Her father, a member of William Cullen Bryant’s literary circle, was the pastor of the Church of the Messiah in New York City from 1849 to 1869, after which he entered the Episcopal ministry. ...