Stories from the Field

Board Spotlight: Rachael Klein

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Rachael Klein, new Southern California board member, on a hike with her family.

Rachael is one of our newest members of the Southern California regional board. She brings 12 years of experience in the financial sector and currently works for MUFG. As a member of the Southern California regional board, Rachael hopes to support NatureBridge’s vision by expanding awareness and supporting growth. Her love for wildlife can be traced back to rescued wolves that she grew up with as a child. Learn more about Rachael and her commitment to NatureBridge!

Why did you first give to NatureBridge? 
My initial impression of NatureBridge was an organization that combines two areas I am passionate about: environment and education. The increasing urgency of protecting the environment and the life it sustains emphasizes the need to educate and prepare the next generation as we continue to lack sufficient environmental protections in part due to ignorance and misunderstanding. Above all, we need to foster empathy for what and who else is around us. NatureBridge gives me hope that we can help the next generations better understand the important and active role humans have to take in preservation and conservation.
Why does this cause matter to you? Why now in particular?
The bad news: The natural world, the environment and the animals living in it, is under attack, both directly and indirectly. Balanced, delicate, and beautiful ecosystems, which have taught us volumes about life and science, are suffering and shrinking. Sadly, they continue losing to the whims of volatile economic and political priorities, while increasingly trampled by the unprecedented numbers of people consuming these environments without understanding their own human impact.
The good news: NatureBridge encourages awareness of this natural world and helps the next generations not only understand the delicacy and importance of these ecosystems but also the enormous impact humans can have. The education gives these students the ability to choose whether it will be a positive impact they make or a negative one. Taking kids and teens into the natural world, showing them its beauty and importance, while helping them develop empathy for these areas, for animals, and for each other, helps build the foundation to choose to make that positive impact.
What personal experiences inspired your connection to nature?
At a young age, growing up with the benefit of nature hikes, seeing undisturbed areas across the coast, redwood forests, southern California chaparral, as well as domestic and wild animals, I developed a passion for the peace these areas carried, the diverse, colorful and numerous ecosystems that existed in harmony, without destroying each other. As I learned about the travesties occurring locally and globally which had decade or even century long ramifications, and often wiped out these incredible ecosystems, I was devastated: massive oil spills, inert plastic garbage ending animal lives, human-driven predator/prey imbalances, hiking paths turning into housing developments. I saw negative impacts take permanent hold, and I understood I needed to take a larger role in making a positive impact. I learned that each individual has a responsibility and a power to support sustainability; we also have a responsibility to educate others to help as well. If we don’t do our roles to protect this amazing gift that is Mother Nature, we will lose it.
If you had a family slogan, what would it be?
Protect animals; they are at our mercy.
What do you love about Moving Mountains, our annual fundraiser in Southern California? 
Moving Mountains is a fantastic opportunity to introduce people to not only to NatureBridge as an organization, but also to the staff and students involved in it. Part of what makes this organization so special and so differentiated is the sincerity and dedication of the staff, and the students who can talk about their own memories from the experiential education that they are able to carry with them for the rest of their lives. Every time I meet a NatureBridge student I learn something enriching about the environment and about people. At the last Moving Mountains the students taught me some incredible facts, and I met dozens of people with passion and enthusiasm for what the organization does. It’s heartening to be reminded that we are all in this together, and yes, it takes a village.
What makes you hopeful and happy, and what would you like to pass on to future generations?
Seeing the next generation get excited about the natural environment and the important role it plays in sustaining all sorts of fascinating forms of life including humans. It’s also beautiful to see kids and teens become more thoughtful about their own impact on the world, on each other, and on Earth itself.
We would love for future generations to treasure and preserve the natural environment; to respect, care for, and appreciate the animal world, both domesticated and wild, and to make empathy a way of life when interacting with ecosystems and each other.

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