Yesterday (I think it was yesterday…hard to tell with the travel & time change!), I asked Vance (WILD’s President) — When did you first go to South Africa?
I could tell this was going to be a good story the second I asked. Vance seemed a bit surprised by the question and then smiled thinking back. He said he hadn’t thought about his first trip to Africa in a while.
It was the early 80’s, and Ian Player asked Vance to come to Africa. Ian and his wife Ann, picked Vance and his family up at the airport. Vance’s kids were very young then – he recalls 3 or 4 years old. He said they used to travel a lot when the kids were young – back to the US from Scotland, and to Africa, Australia and around Europe.
Ian had planned a trip to introduce Vance to Africa – much like Vance has planned this trip for me. Obviously, Ian had something in mind for Vance when he asked him to visit!
Vance recalls that a generous supporter of the Wilderness Leadership School sponsored his trip. Likely, Ian had a very close relationship with this donor, Rita who was known as ‘the matriarch,’ and they worked together to plan a trip that would bring Vance closer into their world of conservation and Africa.
I find a lot of similarities in this story to my current situation (!). I guess that’s how things work – conservation and leadership that is. Vance commented on this, “Things go the way they are supposed to go.” Opportunities like this arise and you take them. Chances are, they will change who you are and in fact, change how you see the world and what you do about it. You pass that on however you can. These short blog entries are my first attempt to ‘pass it on.’ I can only hope that I find meaningful avenues to ‘pass it on,’ both professionally within the conservation world and personally, long after the trip concludes.