Jim Fowler (2003)
Award Presented at the San Diego Aerospace Museum, San Diego, California
"Jim Fowler's enthusiastic, all-encompassing love for endangered wild life has won him the affection of human and animal kind the world over," Reeve Lindbergh said about one of the world's best-known naturalists, who has dedicated the past 40 years to wildlife preservation and education. A graduate of Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, with degrees in zoology and geology, Fowler is internationally recognized as an authority on predatory birds, and pursued a graduate degree by conducting the first studies of the harpy, the world's largest eagle, found in the Amazon. He later tracked the movements of the Andean condor in Peru. Fowler earned international acclaim, however, when he began working with Marlin Perkins as co-host and later host of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom in 1963, and later the Spirit of Adventure program. Fowler has a long list of television programs on which he has served as wildlife correspondent, or made regular appearances including: The Today Show; The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson; Animal Encounters with Jim Fowler, which airs on Animal Planet; among others.
Fowler is actively involved in a nationwide conservation education program for Mutual of Omaha, is a nationally recognized authority on wildlife, and is president of the Fowler Center for Wildlife Education in New York. He believes "the continued existence of wildlife and wilderness is important to the quality of life of humans. The challenge of the future is that we realize we are very much a part of the earth's ecosystem, and must learn to respect and live according to the basic biological laws of nature." His views are markedly similar to those held by Anne Morrow Lindbergh who wrote that society must "balance power over life with reverence for life," and with Charles Lindbergh's beliefs that we must "discern nature's essential wisdom and combine it with our scientific knowledge." Fowler has successfully used television and more recently the Internet to spread his message of conservation. "There is no denying that television is one of the most powerful propaganda media we've ever invented, but you don't often see spokesmen for the natural world," Fowler told the Memphis Flyer in 1997.
Education, Fowler believes, is paramount to enlightening the public about the importance of wildlife and wilderness. He believes people must learn to understand how their actions impact animal populations and furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, they must realize that their own lives are controlled by environmental factors. "Almost all of the social tragedies occurring around the world today are caused by ignoring the basic biological laws of nature," says Fowler. "The quicker we humans learn that saving open space and wildlife is critical to our welfare and quality of life, maybe we'll start thinking of doing something about it."