Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why I Need $120,000 Dollars - An Introduction

There is no mistake in the title of this post. Yes, I really need $120,000 dollars to fulfill my dream.  I need this money fast too.  The time has come to make my dream a reality.

I am the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Snake Conservation.  I founded the CSC to make a difference for snakes around the world.  Snakes are grossly misunderstood and portrayed very negatively in the media, movies, and social media.  I firmly believe (and have strong evidence) that this misunderstanding and negative portrayal is directly related to a lack of education and exposure to snakes.  Think about it for a moment - when do you hear about snakes?  You hear about snakes when one escapes, a person is bitten, or some interesting but gross visual image is found and published.  This is enough to scare anyone that hasn't had a positive experience with snakes.  For example, the release and rapid takeover of the Everglades by Burmese pythons only made media attention after the photo below went viral in emails and on social media.  It is a gross and disturbing photo that makes the python into something easy to hate.  If this is the only story you heard about snakes, you would be disgusted and fearful that you could be next.  Is this really a fair portrayal of a Burmese python? 

Absolutely not.  

Now - do I believe that Burmese pythons belong in the Everglades? No but this is not a reason to spread myths and lies about pythons just because it sells.  Instead of demonizing these snakes, we need to study and report on their impact to the fragile ecosystems in south Florida and learn why they are such successful invaders there.

Anyway, you have gotten me way off topic here talking about an invasive species and its portrayal in the media.  This really isn't snake conservation other than the dispelling myths part.  I need to get back to why I need $120,000 dollars.  

I need $120,000 dollars to open the doors of a Center for Snake Conservation facility.  I need $120,000 dollars to take the next step in fulfilling my dream.  I need $120,000 dollars to make the world see and appreciate snakes for what they are - incredible predators that deserve respect but also admiration.  Snakes truly are some of the earth's most fascinating creatures and I want to tell the world all about them.

So why would just anyone give me money to fulfill my dream?  Great question really.  I will answer it with the simple picture below this paragraph.  In this photo, I am sharing a wandering gartersnake with a group of school children on Earth Day in 2011.  I had just founded the CSC and this image really solidified my decision to follow my passion.  This photo shows how powerful an up-close and personal experience with a snake can be.  These kids are captivated.  These kids are learning.  These kids will become a voice for snakes.  These kids are happy because I teach them at their level with live snakes for them to see and touch.  This approach destroys any myths and mistruths implanted by television and social media.  Just think about what I can do with a brightly colored green tree python if I can have this sort of impact with a gartersnake.  Hell, you should really experience this in person - invite me to come give a talk for your next function, party, or even yourself and I will find a way to make it happen.

Since that Earth Day, I have brought snakes to 1000s of people in the Denver area.  I have been in schools, businesses, parks, and event centers with my teachers (the snakes).  Each person I touch (or have touch a snake), leaves with a new appreciation for snakes.  This audience even includes professional herpetologists with PhDs.  It includes inner city children who have never been given an opportunity to see or touch a snake before.  It includes campers that pass on a night of s'mores to come to my snake talks (side bar here - my snake talks at the Larimer County campgrounds have averaged over 80 people per talk in the last two summers.  Other presenters and groups giving talks at the campgrounds average less than 30 participants.  Snakes are amazing and people want to see them despite the myths, fears, and distrust harbored before they come to one of my snake talks.).  It includes people from all walks of life.  What I can do for these people is give them a new appreciation for snakes even if I cannot rid them of their fear and prejudice.  I do this very well.

So, I need $120,000 dollars to open the doors of a facility that will set the Center for Snake Conservation up in a position to reach the world.  Having a physical space is critical to the growth and development of the CSC's science, conservation, and education programs.  This space will allow me to pursue my dream full-time without having to sacrifice anymore.  I have ignored my passion and what I was made to do for way too long.

This blog post is just an introduction.  I will continue to write parts of this story until I raise the $120,000 dollars I need to fulfill my dream and make a mark on the world for snakes.  In these blog posts, I will plead my case.  I will show you why and how you will benefit by donating to help me fulfill my dream.  You will learn exactly how I will spend the $120,000 dollars.  After these blog posts, the value of your donation will be clearly visible.

Snake conservation is my priority and my life's goal .  If you have seen me in action, you already know that my pre-ordained purpose is to educate the world about the value and need for snakes in a healthy planet.  Be a part of the CSC and play a role in helping me make a difference for snakes.


I must note here that the Center for Snake Conservation is MUCH, MUCH larger than just me.  The CSC is a vision for the world.  No one is excluded as long as they can commit to its mission.  The CSC is so much larger than me but I am brought alive by its mission.  This is why I am going to write with "I" when I really should use the word "we".  I need to bring my passion to you.  I need to show you how personally invested and committed I am to making snake conservation and educating the human world about snakes a priority.  The word "we" is a very powerful word for describing the growing CSC community but it is the word "I" that will allow me to convey the CSC's need for $120,000 dollars.  

The Center for Snake Conservation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of all snakes. 
The CSC's mission is to promote the conservation of snakes and their natural ecosystems and implement positive change in human attitudes towards snakes. 

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