Getting to Know Dr. Peter Raven

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Peter RavenTIME magazine described Dr. Peter Raven as a “Hero for the Planet.” This title is rightly earned when considering the immense work Dr. Raven has done for conservation and preserving endangered plants.

Dr. Raven is President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Raven holds a BSc in Biology and a Ph.D in botany. He is best known for his important work, Butterflies and Plants: A Study in Coevolution, which he coauthored with Paul R. Ehrlich. He has since written numerous scientific papers and articles relating to botany.

Dr. Raven will be on the panel at our event, Explore the Outdoors: St. Louis. In order to get to know Dr. Raven a little better prior to the event, we asked a few questions.

1. What first sparked your interest in biology and conservation?  
I was interested in biology from the time I was about six years old.  Growing up in San Francisco, there was lots to see and enjoy!  Very early on, I joined the Student Section at the California Academy of Sciences and that was a great way to learn about nature and join a group of peers socially at the same time.  Conservation did not come into view for most of us until the 1960s, when I was teaching at Stanford.  Once I realized how the explosive growth of the human population and the even more rapid growth of our desire to consume more and more was destroying the fragile biosphere that supported us all, I became very involved.

2. What has been your most rewarding experience in your field? 
Building up the resources of the Missouri Botanical Garden over a period of 39 years has been incredibly rewarding. Being the Director enabled me to deal with the problems and seize the opportunities to be involved in conservation and protecting our natural resources.  Getting to know the people of St. Louis in the process has been very gratifying.

3. How has the Missouri Botanical Garden changed over your years there? Do you have a favorite area to browse?
Since I first came to the Missouri Botanical Garden, we developed about three-quarters of the Garden area that had been neglected before, joined the Zoo-Museum District, and built the staff greatly. We became a much more active institution in display, research and education as membership grew from about 1,800 to more than the 40,000 members we have now. In addition, we became active in many different parts of the world.

4. What advice do you have to the next generation of conservationists?
For budding conservationists, I suggest adopting the most international viewpoint possible. Keep up to date on your information and always try to base your arguments on accurate, up-to-date scientific information.  Communication is crucial today. You must be able to clearly communicate your views with others, starting with your family, and look for changes in attitude as the key to making a better future.

To hear more from Dr. Peter Raven, join us at Explore the Outdoors: St. Louis. The evening banquet will feature Dr. Raven in addition to Andy Buchsbaum from the National Wildlife Federation and Brandon Butler from CFM during the panel discussion. Registration is required, and can be done here.

Fore more information, click here.


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