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Mark Trail and Making Our Mark - By EENC Member Laura Shields

This morning, I found myself with tears in my eyes. Remembering a loved one is like that. Out of nowhere a cherished memory finds its way into your consciousness. Tears of fondness found their way into my eyes in memory of a beloved father. And what was it you might ask that prompted this reaction in my 42 year old self, and 4 years after his death? It was a childhood memory of Sunday mornings sitting at his feet while he read...the Mark Trail comic.

The Sunday comic strip by Mark Trail that my Dad would read to me typically highlighted a particular species or topic. The comic began in 1946, and has been teaching people about the preservation of our natural resources ever since. Various publications were also published under the Mark Trail name, including for government and nonprofit groups. Mark Trail also won many conservation awards. As with anything that has been around that long, there is some controversy over gender representation and out-dated science, but it is an amazing timeline of reaching the general public regarding conservation.

Learning the history of this historical interpreter was simply a fun detour prompted by this memory. What was most poignant to me, is the reminder that it is the off-hand, unassuming moments that often teach us so much, as children and adults alike. Relationships, passions, and a heart for sharing, all touch those around us in meaningful ways. In this time of “isolation”, “quarantine”, “social-distancing” and “phased reopening,” we find our circles smaller and, perhaps, more open to contemplation.

Most of us have had our interpretation work significantly altered in 2020. But, we ALL have a community we continue to make a meaningful impact on. Six months ago we may have been too hurried, or harried, to share these teachable moments with what is now our closest circle: hiking, but also picking up trash and carrying it out, not as an organized cleanup, but just because; exploring historical experiences of the Spanish Flu and 1918 Influenza Pandemic, not as a required school assignment, but for curiosity's sake; shadowing a sea turtle volunteer(because, well, sea turtles aren’t under a stay at home order and nesting season has begun), to learn more about turtles to share with my circle, just because I am interested and have the time; sharing a social media post about baby bats to an audience that may have been too busy to give it a look several months ago, and thus increasing awareness in a quiet, unassuming way.

We are interpreters. Our execution of that passion may have been altered, but has not been eliminated. As long as there are people on this Earth, we will be called to, and have the opportunity to, share our passions. Chin up. You are still making a mark. Your community, whatever that looks like right now, is waiting. Embrace it. Be fulfilled by it. Enjoy it.


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