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The making of a tree-hugger

I grew up learning about nature from Boy Scouts and going camping with my dad. I don't remember most of what I learned about identifying trees on my way to becoming an Eagle Scout but there are things that had an impact on me like the merit badge that required me to sit quietly in the woods for an hour. It was the first time I realized how different the forest is when you're still enough to not disturb what's around you.

The turning point for me was going to work for the National Parks Conservation Association in Knoxville Tennessee. When I started the job I had more enthusiasm for historic sites in the National Park system than the natural parks. Being close enough to hike in the Great Smoky Mountains every weekend changed my perspective. The beauty of the mountains must be why there's so much support for environmental issues in East Tennessee compared to central Illinois.

— Will Reynolds, thereisaway.us, Oct. 15, 2007