Honoring Women in Nature

Written by: Mollie Ripple

This March for Women’s History Month, River Legacy Nature Center would like to honor a few women who have made a lasting impact on the natural world that continues to influence environmental efforts today. 

Vandana Shiva is an eco-feminist who founded Navdanya, a research institute that works to maintain biodiversity and advocate for the rights of farmers in her country of India. Due to her activism against GMO use, she is known as the Gandhi of grain. She has written 20 books and earned countless awards including the Earth Day International Award. Environmental activists like Vandana Shiva keep our world protected and restored.

Rachel Carson sparked the Environmental Revolution with her book, Silent Spring, where she highlights the harmful effects that humans have on the natural world, specifically through the use of chemicals that damage the ecosystem and its inhabitants. She tasks humans to be stewards of the environment and her efforts eventually led to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States which functions to reduce contamination, increase environmental education and protect the health of both humans and nature. Our Earth is a healthier, cleaner place because of Rachel Carson.

Dr. Jane Goodall spent years doing field research on chimpanzees and has altered the way humans connect with animals. In 1977, she founded the Jane Goodall Institute, which continues to model her research across the globe. Its mission states: “By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals, and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.” Jane continues to share her message of environmental stewardship and particularly encourages young people to be active participants in saving our planet. We know so much more about how to relate to and care for our Earth’s animals thanks to the extensive efforts of Jane Goodall.

Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan political activist who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her peaceful, democratic, and sustainable efforts toward conservation. She founded the Green Belt movement which empowers women and advocates for land conservation. One of the biggest ways this organization acts to combat deforestation is through the planting of more than 50 million trees. Wangari Maathai’s legacy can be seen in the cleaner air, improved food security, decrease in poverty, and increased social justice in the country of Kenya.

With their efforts to conserve land and combat deforestation, maintain biodiversity, reduce contamination, produce research, and increase environmental education, these women have made great strides in the field of science that future generations can continue to look to in their endeavors to steward the natural world around them.