Stephen Curro
 

I've always had a hard time picking a favorite animal.

Whales are certainly close to the top of the list. They're so majestic and they have beautiful voices and they're just so big! But then there are wolves, the ancestors of the dogs we love and cherish, wild and yet social, beautiful and primal. Butterflies have also held my imagination, with their different shapes and colors seeming to come in an infinite variety. Pangolins are a strange creature, armored mammals little-known in the West but well-known in Africa and Asia. And of course there are the dinosaurs, awesome beasts that are no longer with us but once ruled the Earth for 140 million years. The list goes on. But the fact is I love all animals. I always have. They are much more than dumb creatures who happen to live on our planet. Indeed, this planet belonged to them long before humans came into existence. They think, they feel, they live just as you or I. To me they are proof that a higher power exists, and they enrich our planet as well as our souls. If so much as a spider wanders inside, I catch it and let it go in the backyard. Why kill a creature that means you no harm?

Growing up, my mother made me aware of environmental issues, like the persecution of wolves in Alaska or plastic that tangles sea turtles. My father meanwhile is an avid fisherman to this day, and he gave me opportunities to get out of the city and into nature where the animals really live. In seventh grade my aunt Barbara gave me my first copy of Smithsonian: Animal, an encyclopedia that I often stayed up late to read. We've had many wonderful dogs in the family, as well as fish and at one point a bird and a hamster.

As life went on I found a passion for education and I'm currently working to attain my teaching license. I also work with the Friends of Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison., Colorado. I want to help children learn how to read, but I also want to help children become environmental stewards. Education is the best weapon against ignorance and inaction. By learning about the world of the past and the world of the present, it will make people more aware of what the world might be like in the future.

When I was asked to join Taproot Guru, I jumped at the chance. I'm always looking for ways to help the natural world. Animals need our help now more than ever. Why? Because they make the world so much more interesting. Because their health is tied to our own. Because compassion should not just stop on the human level, it must extend to all beings because they are alive the same as we are. Because our children will one day take over this world, and I don't want them to inherit a barren world lacking in color and life.

Of course extinction is a regular occurrence in the geologic record. 95% of all creatures that have ever lived are no longer with us. But for the first time in Earth's history animals are going extinct due to a most unnatural cause: greed. It pains my heart to see species wink out of existence just because a few humans wanted to make a quick buck. This we cannot allow. We have some rough times ahead of us, but I know that we can preserve the Animal Kingdom. And that's why I'm a Taproot Guru.

 

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