Friday, September 16, 2011

Angelina Jolie - My New Favorite Nature Nerd

For several years, I have been on the look-out for celebrity nature nerds. Nature Nerds, by my definition, are people that don't just give money to environmental causes. They are the ones that actually get out there and play with bugs and get eye-to-eye with the critters in their yards.

So I LOVE this short little article that I read about Angelie Jolie this morning on

Angelina Jolie is Bugging Out 
The actress — who is a mother of six — says she is such a fan of veteran anthropologist and ape expert Jane Goodall that she and partner Brad Pitt make a point of encouraging their children to be hands-on with nature. 

“I remember the stories about how Jane used to keep worms in jars when she was little and bring them into the house and I look for that in my children,” says Jolie who appears on a TV biography of the 77-year-old animal lover. 

“If ever my children want to take care of a bug I know it’s very important to help them do that because it’s symbolic of love and nature. Maybe then you’ll have a little Jane Goodall on your hands!”

Way to go Angelina! We need more celebrities like you who encourage their kids to go outside and get eye-to-eye with nature so that they can learn, firsthand, about the wonders that we are all trying to protect!

If you want to know more about my great search for nature nerds, here is a blog post that I originally wrote back in 2007!

You May Already be a Nature Nerd

© 2007 Betsy S. Franz
When I was growing up, there were two distinct types of people: the cool people and the nerds. The cool people were the football players, the cheerleaders, and anyone in a rock band. The nerds were the ones who got good grades, wore black rimmed glasses and were much more likely to have a microscope or a telescope at home than they were to have a date on Friday night. 

Generally speaking, the birdwatchers and the backyard botanists fell into the nerd category. Cool kids didn’t even know what a chrysalis was much less have one in a jar in their bedroom. 

But times have changed. Protecting the planet and all of its creepy crawly inhabitants is not only sociably responsible AND socially acceptable but it is also suddenly cool. 

Sure, there are many different shades of ‘green’, and environmental responsibility takes many forms. Every day citizens and celebrities alike are proud to proclaim their passion for solar energy and hybrid automobiles. But how many of them are ready to come out of the closet when it comes to the more nerdish pastimes such as bird watching and butterfly gardening? How many of them are ready to admit that they not only hug trees, but they also fondle flowers and even caress critters from time to time? 

Certainly we can imagine animal activist celebs such as Mary Tyler Moore and Ellen DeGeneres getting eye-to-eye with the bunnies and squirrels in their yard. And Martha Stewart must surely appreciate the serenade of songbirds in her flower filled gardens. 

But what about other well-known environmental celebrities? Do nature lover Darryl Hannah and inner-city gardener Bette Midler welcome the wonders of wildlife to their backyard landscapes? Has Leonardo DiCaprio, Kevin Bacon or Ed Begley Jr. ever marveled at the metamorphous of a butterfly? Do Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pierce Brosnan hang nectar feeders to attract hovering hummingbirds? Has Ted Danson, Willie Nelson or Robert Kennedy, Jr. ever pulled out a magnifying glass to help identify an unknown insect? 

If they haven’t, then perhaps they should. It’s a wonderful cause to want to save the planet but it isn’t a planet of asphalt and steel and carbon spewing monolithic factories that we are trying to save. It’s the miniscule miracles. The sights that, in the past, only the nerds have taken the time to notice. And it is there, perhaps, when one gets eye-to-eye with the birds and the butterflies and the creatures that visit our gardens and wander through our yards, that we realize what it is we are working so hard to protect. 

So whether you are a star studded celebrity, a prima ballerina or a single parent , it’s time to admit your nerdiness to the world. Go ahead and get excited about the tadpoles in your garden pond and the butterflies eating your herb garden! Grab the magnifying glass and a good nature guide and share the great outdoors with the ones you love. 

And if you still aren’t sure whether you want to admit that you are a nerd or not, here are a few questions to help you decide: 

You may be a nature nerd if:

* You monthly bill for birdseed is greater than your TV cable bill.
* You feel bad for the bugs that splatter on your windshield.
* You have ever stopped traffic and played crossing guard for turtles, squirrels, ducks or other critters who   are trying to cross the road.
* You have a birding Life List.
* You don’t mind when caterpillars eat all of your plants and are even happy to buy them more.
* You have funerals for the critters that die in your yard.
* Your neighbors have ever reported you for having an overgrown yard because you have let your landscape “go native”.
* You have ever reported your neighbors for cutting down trees that are protected.
* You have visited at least one of the stops on the Great American Birding trail.
* You know the difference between a lepidopterist and an ornithologist AND you know how to spell them both. 
* You have suddenly become the “eccentric” neighbor who wants everyone to keep their cat out of your yard.
* The binoculars you keep by your back window are for bird watching, not people watching.
* You have given first names to all of the various critters that come to your property and you recognize them by name. 
* You are one of the 70,000+ people who has had your yard certified as a National Wildlife Federation Backyard Wildlife Habitat.
* You’d rather capture a bug or spider and take it outside than squish it.

And the number one way to tell whether you may be a Nature Nerd…..
* You not only know what a chrysalis is but you have one in a jar in your bedroom. 

According to the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associate Recreation, there are over 71 million bird and wildlife watchers in the United States. Rumors among various birding groups on the internet hint that Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Carrie Fisher and Paul McCartney may be among the many celebrities that dabble in this nerdish pastime.

For more information about how to become a nerd for birds and other backyard wildlife, visit these sites:

National Audubon Society - - - For over 100 years, Audubon has been working to protect birds, other wildlife, and their habitats.

National Wildlife Federation - - Founded in 1936, It’s purpose has always been to bring together individuals, organizations and agencies interested in the restoration and conservation of wildlife resources.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology - - The Lab is a nonprofit membership institution whose mission is to interpret and conserve the earth's biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. They believe that bird enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels can and do make a difference.

And if you are already a proud nature nerd, please leave a comment below to proclaim your nerdiness to the world!!

1 comment:

  1. Count me in!

    I try to be a good model nerd! Nothing makes me happier than to amaze little boys by being a grown up lady who likes bugs, snakes, and sharks. When one of the little boys from our neighborhood or at the park on in my son's class tells me they think that those animals are cool, I like to amaze them by trading cool facts and waxing poetic about their scales or their cool eyes, whatever.

    Same with bees… when my daughter's friends scream about bees, I love amazing them by saying how much I love the bees and how I love to watch them in my garden… sometimes just being a grown up who takes a moment to be amazed changes an entire group's outlook on insects.

    Never, ever, be afraid to let your wonderment show in front of kids. I am told that is how Rachel Carson amazed her neighborhood kids in Silver Spring many years ago, by stopping to exclaim her love for the ants they were stomping upon and killing.

    Long live the nerds.


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