“I’ve always wanted to fly, explains J. Drew Lanham in this Audubon Magazine interview from 2015. “I spent my earliest years climbing, leaping, running, and flapping my arms in vain attempts to become an airborne being. I made wings out of cardboard, and tried to float away on umbrellas. None of it worked.”
Today, Dr. Lanham is a Clemson University professor of Wildlife Ecology, a certified wildlife biologist, an author, an Audubon board member, and a leading voice in the birding community. Via the Audubon: “His research focuses on songbird ecology, as well as the African-American role in natural-resources conservation.”
In this StoryCorps animation, he remembers a childhood steeped in nature, a career change inspired by his father’s passing, and the enduring influence of his father’s love for their family’s land.
From a very early age I believed that I would be someone who somehow found a way to fly… And so, I would like to think that my father would see my turn towards the study of nature as carrying a legacy forward.
Watch another StoryCorps favorite: The Temple of Knowledge and what it’s like to grow up in a library.
Plus, enjoy a few more birding and bird videos:
• British Birdsong, an illustrated montage of sound
• Jason Ward goes birding in Central Park
• A blue-and-white flycatcher bathes in a Japanese bird bath
Bonus: My Grandfather’s Memory Book.