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I will be involved in the list serve posting Ron Hirschi's responses to
your e-mails. Ron is a children's author and ecologist. You can find
an overview of his books on the Art and Ecology website. Ron does not
have a computer, but would like very much to participate in the A&E
discussion. Therefore, some of his responses might come a bit later
than you would expect. Thank you.
My work with children is part of what I hope for in being an
ecologist - an attempt to help connect kids with their local
environment in a way that is fun and meaningful in the long term.
That work is connected to my job as an ecologist and writer.
After being away from home for five years, I am back in the Pacific
Northwest where I have returned to work for the S'Klallam Tribe as a
Fisheries Biologist. In that work, I am doing a study of the way
juvenile salmon use various habitats along the entire Dungeness River.
The Dungeness is the major stream within the usual and accustomed
fishing area of the Jamestown S'Klallam and the salmon are vital to the
people - for food, story, and many other things that connect them to
their home. Salmon go out to sea, then they return to the river to lay
eggs. Then they die. But the rebirth of young salmon in the river
stones is a beautiful emergence. I am lucky to spend two or three days
each week walking the river watching those baby fish and keep track of
what they need to survive those early days of life in the freshwater,
before they migrate to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, then the Pacific
All the while, I also get to write books and work with several
artists as I struggle to find new ways to bring what I get to see as an
ecologist to others. And, to bring others into the rivers and streams
to see for themselves and express what they see and feel.
We have a legend out here about the salmon - some say they are
people who live out on the ocean. Each year they decide to shed their
human form and transform, slipping into the water to become salmon.
They swim to our shores and we get to catch them. Lately, I have been
asking people - adults too - to write postcards to the salmon people.
That process, of writing to salmon people, or to whales and bears,
squirrels and sharks, is a big part of my work and the postcards
themselves seem to hold a special meaning, as if they are a way to help
us communicate with nature in a way that is otherwise denied in our
At the same time, much of my work is directly connected to helping
restore my local environment. As we restore salmon rivers, we help
heal broken watersheds of the Northwest. And, especially for S'Klallam
culture, that is a large healing of many wounds.