Arkansas Wildlife Federation Interim Executive Director Johnny Carrol Sain was a featured speaker at the March for Science in Little Rock on April 22.
The March ended at the Arkansas State Capital Building where an estimated 1,500-2,000 people listened to a diverse group of speakers discuss the importance of science.
Sain's speech reflected back to a childhood of observation and appreciation of the natural world that led to his becoming an environmental conservationist.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette featured excerpts from Sain's speech in a Sunday edition article.
After the march, Sain and AWF volunteers met and visited with marchers at the Museum of Discovery in downtown Little Rock.
Sain's speech in its entirety:
I’m an avid hunter and angler. My wife would say I’m often obsessive about hunting and fishing. I crave that primal connection to the wild. But before I became a hunter and an angler, I was an observer. Of course, I had no credentials, but I was — by the most basic definition — a scientist. A curious child blessed with family that fed the curiosity, my grandfather always had a jar holding some critter he wanted to introduce me to. My dad taught me to listen for spring in the call of a whip-poor-will, which snakes were harmless and which ones deserved my deepest respect, and how much I could learn about the woods and water through quiet observation.
The only reason I had these opportunities at a semi-feral life, seeking an intimate relationship with the natural world we belong to, is because of forward thinking people that leaned heavily on conservation science to save and restore wildlife and habitat. The founder of this forward thinking is my philosophical grandfather Aldo Leopold. Leopold was a hunter, angler, writer, and scientist whose work and words influenced the North American Wildlife Conservation Model. This model is the reason we enjoy our relatively abundant fish and wildlife today, which, given the pressures brought on by the industrial age, is really quite astounding.
One of the seven tenants of the model is that wildlife management be based on sound science by trained wildlife biologists making decisions based on facts, professional experience, and a commitment to shared underlying principle. Research on population dynamics, fish and wildlife behavior, habitat management, and hunter/angler surveys are all part of this science that was, in fact, the saving grace for exploited populations of fish and wildlife, and the habitat only a century ago.
These efforts through science are the reason I’m interim executive director of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation. These efforts through science are why I write about the wild places and wild things within our beautiful state, the Natural State. These efforts through science to conserve fish, wildlife, and their habitat made me who I am today.
Conservation science preserved our hunting and fishing heritage for my generation, and conservation science will ensure my grandchildren can enjoy a semi-feral life, seeking that unique intimate relationship with the natural world known to hunters and anglers.
As Leopold said : “There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.”
Let’s ensure that facts based in science lead us through an increasingly politicized minefield of environmental policy. Conservation science brought us out from the dark ages of depleted fish and wildlife populations. Conservation science is the only hope for those of us who cannot live without wild things.