As a child growing up in Ohio and Michigan, Paula Bowker felt connected to the earth and had an intense interest in the environment. She feels that she is a product of both nature and nurture, and the influence of two grade school teachers who placed emphasis on the natural sciences. "I was a little wood Nymph," Paula says with a laugh. "Playing in the dirt, running through mud puddles, spending quiet time with trees and ferns gave me a great pleasure, despite my poor mother's protest."
Those interests continue to grow as she matured, and backpacking and camping replaced her childhood pastimes. Those activities also brought her in contact with clear-cut woods and other signs of peoples' lack of respect for the land. Paula was then living in Atlanta, where sprawl, pollution, and overcrowding of city life eventually became too much for her to bear.
A career civil servant, Paula now resides in the wooded foothills of North Georgia, an area that reminds her a bit of her childhood in Michigan. Though she still roams the woodlands around her home, she also enjoys venturing abroad, where she usually takes extended walking tours through the countryside. She says, "I was always proud to be a civil servant, but in the past 5 years my pride has changed to embarrassment, and I am deeply disturbed by all of the damage being inflicted on decades of environmental protection statutes."
MAKING A DIFFERENCE WHENEVER SHE CAN
Paula admits to being a generally reserved and soft-spoken person, which is one reason she has chosen to support Greenpeace throughout much of her life. "Greenpeace front-liners are brave and bold and often do dynamic things, which I think you need in order to get people's attention. Sometimes I envision myself as a little old lady in white sneakers, chained to a tree in protest of some wrongdoing or injustice, but I lack the courage to do that kind of thing. I commend those who act on our behalf."
Paula consulted with her attorney a few years ago about way to continue to support Greenpeace and her other charitable interests after her lifetime. With no children to provide for, she decided to make Greenpeace one of her beneficiaries of the residue of her retirement plan as a legacy to the planet.
"I would like to think that our species is evolved enough to fix the problems that we have created in the environment," says Paula, "If not, I want to help make sure Greenpeace will always be around to act as mankind's conscience and the Earth's steward."
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