Dr. George Archibald, one of the founders of the International Crane Foundation, has been retired from his duties as ICF’s President and CEO for a decade and half now, but he’s anything but retired when it comes to travel, meetings, and speaking on behalf of the world’s cranes. Just a glance at “Travels with George” – a feature at ICF’s website, makes it clear what a world traveler he is. His many trips are sure to involve meetings and lectures about ICF, the cranes, and conservation issues that affect the cranes – and all of us.
I learned recently through a Google Alerts (for news about whooping cranes) that Dr. Archibald – George, to his many friends and followers all over the world – was in Southwest Florida this weekend, speaking about ICF and whooping cranes on the Isles of Capri, and it served as a reminder that now might be a good time to review just a few of the many trips described by George in the past two years.
It was also a reminder to check on and report where else he might be talking in early 2015. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at The Ridges Sanctuary in Bailey’s Harbor in 2012 and the depth and breadth of information he has to share, and his relaxed, storytelling style made it an experience I highly recommend to anyone.
Whatever George is talking about – whether it’s the historical development of conservation in North America, the indelible influence of Aldo Leopold on that history, or the characteristics of the world’s 15 species of cranes, or their beauty and power to bring people together to tackle tricky environmental issues – whether some of that, or all of it, you’ll enjoy yourself, and learn a lot too. Isn’t that a winning combination?
Dr. Archibald’s executive assistant at ICF sent me the following dates for two upcoming crane festivals where he will be a featured speaker. If you’re anywhere near the Texas gulf coast a month from now there will be two opportunities to meet and hear George at the Port Aransas Whooping Crane Festival. On Friday evening, Feb. 20th, he will be joined by two other ICF colleagues – Dr. Barry Hartup, ICF’s crane veterinarian and Dr. Liz Smith who is ICF’s whooping crane conservation biologist, on location in coastal Texas. The trio will present “All You Ever Wanted to Know About Whooping Cranes,” from 7 to 8:30 p.m., at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas. This is a free event.
You can also meet George Sunday morning as he will serve as the tour guide on the 4 1/2-hour Whooping Crane Boat Tour which leaves from Fisherman’s Wharf, Port Aransas, at 8 a.m., Feb. 22nd. There are Whooping Crane Boat Tours each day of the festival, but the one Sunday morning is the only one George is leading. There is a $50 per person charge for the boat tour.
In March, George will be the keynote speaker at the Monte Vista Crane Festival in southern Colorado. He will present his talk, “To the Heights with Cranes: Cranes of the Mountains,” Saturday evening, March 14th, 7:30 p.m., at the Vali 3 Theater. A donation is suggested.
The festival celebrates the Greater Sandhill Cranes – “part of the 20,000 strong Rocky Mountain flock that spends part of each spring and fall in the San Luis Valley. . .” The cranes migrate between the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico and the Gray’s Lake National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Idaho.
It will be interesting to watch what other trips will be developing for George in this new year. I expect there’ll be many, but the only one to date, that I’ve seen described is a trip in June to Mongolia. It’s a trip that George has already taken several times, and is one that he leads as a tour guide (if you have an inclination to join an adventure trip like this, contact ICF for the details.)
Here are a few words from George about last year’s Mongolia tour: “Thousands of Demoiselle Cranes breed on grasslands across Mongolia, and perhaps as many as 1000 threatened White-naped Cranes live on wetlands in the northeast. ICF is helping our sister organization, “The Wildlife Science and Conservation Center of Mongolia, in their comprehensive research on White-naped Cranes.”
In 2013 and ’14 George’s travels included such close to home trips as Ottawa, New York, Louisiana, Texas, Florida and South Carolina, and these more exotic locations: Japan, Russia, China, Bhutan, Thailand, North Korea, Zambia, India, and Australia. He has friends to see and work to do in each place. Capsule descriptions are all at Travels with George – for your armchair travels, too.