Conservationists in Action

The National Conservation Training Center invites prominent conservationists, writers, historians, scientists, filmmakers, and educators to discuss their work to a broad and interested public.

Conservationists in Action Video List

40 Years from the Brink of Extinction: America's Bald Eagle (00:55:21)

NCTC Historian, Mark Madison, hosts a studio interview with photographer and author John D. Chaney on his new book, “40 Years from the Brink of Extinction: America's Bald Eagle”.

American bald eagles and their fight for survival ignited passion in award-winning photographer John D. Chaney. He began documenting America's national bird for future generations when he learned in college that the bald eagle might become extinct. A few years later the bald eagle was added to the Endangered Species list. His passion grew year after year as he captured more interesting photographs and finally witnessed first-hand the resurgence of our symbol of freedom. Chaney's images in 40 Years from the Brink of Extinction pay tribute to the eagles' survival and the people who helped them. Chaney’s talk will include his photographs of the majestic eagles in their natural habitat, interspersed with interesting facts he learned on his journey. 

Chaney has been an avid photographer for over 50 years. Chaney has won many international awards and has been in numerous publications. An award-wining image of an elephant mourning the death of her mate was displayed on the National Geographic home page and received over 2 million visitors with 16,000 posts which resulted in over twenty interviews and publications as far away as Poland, Brazil, Italy and New Zealand. At 25, he was the co-founder, Chairman and CEO of TeleCheck Services in Houston. For the next two decades John lead a team that built TeleCheck into a national, multi-hundred million dollar company. In 2010 Chaney retired from traditional business to focus on his passion of photography.

A Superb Naturalist - George Schaller Salute Olaus Murie (00:23:39)

"One of the things that Olaus and Mardy left with me is that you must do something beyond yourself," he says. "And conservation is one of the most basic things you can do. For Olaus and Mardy's sake, I really wish that this will forever remain a memo.

An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World (00:56:35)

Presented by author and ecologist Anders Halverson. February 27, 2013. “An Entirely Synthetic Fish” is the true story of the rainbow trout.

Sometimes vilified for their devastating effects on the native fauna, sometimes glorified as the preeminent sport fish, the rainbow trout is the repository of more than a century of America's often contradictory philosophies about the natural world. Exhaustively researched and grippingly rendered by award-winning journalist, aquatic ecologist, and lifelong fisherman Anders Halverson, this presentation chronicles the discovery of rainbow trout, their artificial propagation and distribution, and why they are being eradicated in some waters yet are still the most commonly stocked fish in the United States.

Anders Halverson is an award-winning writer with a Ph.D. in ecology from Yale University. He wrote this book as a research associate at the University of Colorado’s Center of the American West with a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Behold the Earth (00:52:30)

NCTC Historian, Dr. Mark Madison, hosts an interview with filmmaker David Conover on his new film “Behold the Earth”. David Conover was born and raised in a New England family with strong ties to the sea and a tradition of active storytelling. Both grandfathers were amateur filmmakers in the 1920′s and 30′s. Upon graduating with a degree in comparative religious studies from Bowdoin College, David worked as a professional seaman—and then as an outdoor educator with the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School in Maine and in Florida. This was followed by a Master’s Degree in Education at Harvard, with a focus on moral development. His production company Compass Light has produced dozens of award-winning science and history programs for major broadcasters for 18 years, including the experiential series Sunrise Earth.
For more information, visit:

Behold the Earth provides an original opportunity to re-examine and expand the community of U.S. environmentalists, charting steps into the future that builds on Rachel Carson’s discussion of destructive trace toxicity in the 20th century, with the addition of a destructive climate in the 21st century. Carson inspired a wide range of rising young scientists of that time, people like E.O. Wilson and Cal DeWitt and Theo Colborn, to better understand how the natural world works, so as to better track human impacts within it.

At the beginning of the 21st century, a new generation of scientists and evangelicals is coming-of-age, people like Katherine Hayhoe and Ben Lowe and Corina Newsome. They are standing on the shoulders of Cal DeWitt and others inspired by Rachel Carson. Can these emerging leaders and the next wave of Creation Care conservationists reduce the human degradations of the living planet, wrought by trace toxins and a destructively warming climate? Along the way, can they revive the reach and relevance of both the environmentalist and the evangelical movements in America? Film Director and Conservationist David Conover began this highly original film 12 years ago, as an inquiry into America’s divorce from the outdoors, before-and-after the arrival of those known as the digital natives. He is neither scientist nor evangelical. He draws upon some of the same talented field staff behind the spectacular natural sequences in his series Sunrise Earth and Big Picture Earth. For information, visit:

Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel (00:28:54)

In this program NCTC Historian, Dr. Mark Madison, hosts an interview with Author & Marine Biologist, Carl Safina, on his new book "Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel" . July 9, 2015.

Weaving decades of observations of actual families of free-living creatures with new discoveries about brain functioning, Safina brings us inside their lives and minds, breaching many commonly held boundaries between humans and other animals. In Beyond Words, readers travel the wilds of Africa to visit some of the last great elephant gatherings, and follow as free-living wolves of Yellowstone National Park sort out the aftermath of their personal tragedy. Then we plunge into the astonishingly peaceful society of killer whales living in waters of the Pacific Northwest. We spend quality time, too, with dogs and falcons and ravens and dozens of other denizens; and consider how the human mind originated.

In this book readers explore astonishing new discoveries about the similarities in our consciousness, self-awareness, empathy, non-verbal communication, imitation, teaching, the roots of aesthetics and music, and a surprising capacity for grief widespread among elephants, wolves, whales, and even certain birds. Turns out, animals think and feel a lot like people do; after all, people are animals.

Carl Safina earned a PhD in ecology is from Rutgers University. He has published six books and many scientific and popular articles on ecology and oceans, including featured work in National Geographic and The New York Times, and a new Foreword to Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us. His first book, Song for the Blue Ocean, was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a Los Angeles Times Best Nonfiction selection, and a Library Journal Best Science Book selection; it won the Lannan Literary Award for nonfiction. He has been profiled on Nightline and in the New York Times; named by Audubon Magazine among “100 Notable Conservationists of the 20th Century,” and featured on the Bill Moyers PBS special “Earth on Edge.”

More information on Safina and his work can be found at:

Birds and Birding in Israel (00:23:49) Recorded October 3, 2019.

NCTC Historian, Mark Madison, hosts a studio interview with Jonathan Meyrav. Jonathan is the tourism director of the Israel Ornithological Center (IOC), and coordinator of the “Champions of the Flyway” project, an international birding competition that raises funds and awareness to combat the illegal killing of birds along flyways. 

From the volcanic steppes of the Golan Heights to the jagged Granite peaks of the Eilat Mountains, over 540 species of birds have been recorded in Israel to date. Besides a wide range of regional specialty species, Israel also hosts one of the biggest and most important avian migration corridors in the world. This interview will discuss the tremendous richness of birds and wildlife of Israel and the work being done to protect the natural habitats and birds of this swiftly developing country.

Black-Footed Ferret Recovery: A Conservation Success Story (00:53:53)

Conservationists in Action Series - The National Conservation Training Center invites prominent conservationists, writers, historians, scientists, filmmakers, and educators to discuss their work to a broad and interested public. In this program NCTC Historian, Dr. Mark Madison, hosts an interview with Pete Gober, the Black-footed Ferret Recovery Coordinator for the USFWS. March 18, 2015.

In 1979, the black-footed ferret was feared to be extinct. Fortunately, this presumption proved wrong in 1981 when a small population was discovered on a ranch near Meeteetse, Wyoming. Tragically, the wild population succumbed to disease a few years later, but not before biologists had taken 18 ferrets into captivity in an effort to save the species. Those remaining individuals formed the basis of a successful captive-breeding program that has brought the species back from the brink.

For additional information on the black-footed ferret, please visit:

Black-Footed Ferret Recovery Program
National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center
Black-footed Ferret Webcam - Ft. Collins Museum of Discovery in Colorado

Blazing Ahead: the Rivalry that Built the Appalachian Trail (00:45:18)

NCTC Historian, Dr. Mark Madison, hosts a studio interview with Jeff Ryan, author of “Appalachian Odyssey” and “Blazing Ahead”.

Author, speaker, photographer and avid hiker Jeff Ryan was born and raised in Maine. His love of the outdoors was evident early in life. He was skiing at the age of three and spending at least some summer nights in a canvas pup tent at the edge of the woods by the age of twelve. As an adult, Jeff adopted hiking as his favored mode of exploration. In 1983, he went on his first long distance hike, a 6 1/2 month adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Upon his return to Maine from the PCT, Jeff kept right on hiking. He and a hiking partner climbed Maine’s highest 50 mountains in one year. He then began “section hiking” the Appalachian Trail in 1985 (a journey that would take 28 years to complete and culminated in his first book, Appalachian Odyssey: A 28-year hike on America’s trail, published in 2016).

During his research for Appalachian Odyssey, he became interested in the history of the AT, in particular the two larger than life personalities most responsible for the Trail’s existence. This led to his second book, Blazing Ahead: Benton MacKaye, Myron Avery and the Rivalry that Built the Appalachian Trail, published in 2017 by Appalachian Mountain Club Books.

Jeff is a frequent speaker and enjoys inspiring others to get outdoors to enjoy all that nature has to offer to our emotional and physical health. For more information on Ryan's books visit:

Birds of West Virginia and Beyond (00:45:11)

Presented by WV Division of Natural Resources Ornithologist, Richard Bailey. Topics include raptors, songbirds, migratory birds, conservation issues and an overview of the WV Breeding Bird Atlas.

Bringing Back the Fish of the Chesapeake Bay (00:57:34)

Part of the "Conservationist in Action" Series featuring Sandy Burk, a marine biologist, educator, and author. Hosted by Dr. MarK Madison, Historian at NCTC. Aired in 2007.

Sandy Burk, biologist, educator and author discusses how students, parents and the community worked together to bring back the American Shad to the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. Students from Montgomery County, Maryland conducted stream surveys for macroinvertebrates as a measure of stream health/water quality and then helped release young shad into the streams.

Cerulean Blues (00:40:09)

NCTC Historian, Dr. Mark Madison hosts an interview with author and conservationist Katie Fallon. Katie’s first book, Cerulean Blues: A Personal Search for a Vanishing Songbird. May 16, 2013.

Cerulean Blues: A Personal Search for a Vanishing Songbird, was published in 2011. The book details the life history of the Cerulean Warbler, the fastest declining warbler species in the United States. Thirty-five percent of the world’s population of the species breeds in West Virginia. More information can be found at:

Katie teaches writing at West Virginia University and is one of the founders of the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia. ACCA is an all-volunteer organization located near Morgantown, WV. ACCA is licensed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service to treat and rehabilitate injured, ill, or orphaned wild birds. The ACCA mission is: To conserve wild birds through scientific research; education and public outreach; rescue and rehabilitation.

Children and Nature-Using Books to Help Children Make a Difference in the World (00:58:03)

Interview with author Lynne Cherry. She is the author and/or illustrator of over thirty award-winning books for children. Her best-selling books such as The Great Kapok Tree and A River Ran Wild teach children to respect the earth. Lynne is the founder and director of the non-profit Young Voices for the Planet , a 501 (c)(3) tax exempt organization dedicated to helping the voices of environmentally-concerned young people be heard. Lynne is also a movie producer. Her Young Voices for the Planet short films feature youth success stories: California kids helping to get a ban on plastic bags; Florida students saving their school $53,000 in energy costs; An 11-year old German boy planting a million trees... Young people reducing the carbon footprint of their homes, schools and communities.

Feeding Wild Birds in America: Culture, Commerce, and Conservation (01:07:11)

Conservationists in Action Series - The National Conservation Training Center invites prominent conservationists, writers, historians, scientists, filmmakers, and educators to discuss their work to a broad and interested public. In celebration of International Migratory Bird Day on May 9, NCTC Historian, Dr. Mark Madison, hosts an interview with authors Paul J. Baicich and Margaret A. Barker. May 7, 2015.

Today, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, more than fifty million Americans feed birds around their homes, and over the last sixty years, billions of pounds of birdseed have filled millions of feeders in backyards everywhere. Feeding Wild Birds in America tells why and how a modest act of provision has become such a pervasive, popular, and often passionate aspect of people’s lives.

The book provides details on one or more bird-feeding development or trend including the “discovery” of seeds, the invention of different kinds of feeders, and the creation of new companies. Also woven are the worlds of education, publishing, commerce, professional ornithology, and citizen science, all of which have embraced bird feeding at different times and from different perspectives.

The authors take a decade-by-decade approach starting in the late nineteenth century, providing a historical overview in each chapter before covering topical developments (such as hummingbird feeding and birdbaths). On the one hand, they show that the story of bird feeding is one of entrepreneurial invention; on the other hand, they reveal how Americans, through a seemingly simple practice, have come to value the natural world.
PAUL J. BAICICH is a conservation writer and editor and an avitourism consultant. He lives in Maryland.
MARGARET A. BARKER, a writer and educator in the Chesapeake Bay area, coordinated the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s Project FeederWatch.

Additional Information:,8161.aspx

From Billions to None: The Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon (00:46:30)

Conservation in Action Series - The National Conservation Training Center invites prominent conservationists, writers, historians, scientists, filmmakers, and educators to discuss their work to a broad and interested public. In this program NCTC Historian, Dr. Mark Madison, hosts an interview with David Blockstein, Ph.D. Scientist, National Council for Science & the Environment; David Mrazek, Filmmaker “From Billions to None”; Joel Greenberg, Author “A Feathered River Across the Sky” . March 11, 2015.

Glorious Times: Adventures of the Craighead Naturalists (01:01:13) Available soon!

NCTC Historian, Dr. Mark Madison, hosts a studio interview with author Tom Benjey.  June 28, 2018.

Glorious Times: Adventures of the Craighead Naturalists by Tom Benjey tells the fascinating, true, and important story of an American clan of Scots-Irish that settled in the early 1700s in Pennsylvania. From this clan came an astonishing number exceptional people, many of whom dedicated their lives to the study and conservation of nature. Glorious Times even poses the question as to whether this family had a special "Naturalist DNA" in their genetic heritage. Glorious Times covers many generations, but appropriately focuses most attention on the famous siblings Frank Jr., John, and Jean (Craighead George). Glorious Times will be of immense attraction to readers with an interest in the history of environmentalism and conservation in America. For more information on the book and author, visit:

Howard Zahniser: Champion for Wilderness (00:40:41) Recorded:  July 7, 2020

FWS Historian, Mark Madison, hosts an interview with author & filmmaker, Jeffrey Ryan. They discuss Ryan’s new film, Howard Zahniser: Champion for the Wilderness. Howard Zahniser (1905-1964) was the primary author and lobbyist for the Wilderness Act. A writer, researcher, and radio scriptwriter for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1930-1942, he also served as Executive Secretary of The Wilderness Society, starting in 1945. For the next two decades, he was an eloquent advocate for America’s wilderness lands, dying just a few months before the Wilderness Act became law. Maine-based author, filmmaker & speaker Jeffrey Ryan has a passion for exploring the outdoors on foot and along the dusty paths of history. His travels on thousands of miles of America’s most famous and lesser-known trails have inspired several books including Appalachian Odyssey: A 28-year Hike on America’s Trail and his 2019 historical novel entitled, Hermit: The Mysterious Life of Jim Whyte. Ryan’s interest in the history of America’s conservation movement led him to create a video series entitled Voices of the Wilderness, that showcase the enormous contributions of those who have advocated for the creation and protection of our wild lands. When he is not researching and writing, Ryan can be found exploring the backroads of the United States and Canada in his vintage 1985 VW camper. 

Karen Hollingworth (Photographer) (00:27:13)

USFWS Historian, Mark Madison interviews Karen Hollingsworth, Photographer. October 26, 2016.

Last Child in the Woods (01:05:02) Interview with Author Richard Louv. December 2005.

Life Among the Monarchs (00:59:10)

Mark Madison, interviews Lincoln Brower, Distinguished Service Professor of Zoology Emeritus at the University of Florida and Research Professor of Biology at Sweet Briar College. May 21, 2015.

Lincoln Brower has been studying the North American monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus, for more than 50 years, and for 30 years he has made preservation of the unique migration of this butterfly a personal mission. Brower first began studying monarch butterfly biology in 1954 when he was a graduate student at Yale University. He currently is Distinguished Service Professor of Zoology Emeritus at the University of Florida and Research Professor of Biology at Sweet Briar College. His research includes conservation of endangered biological phenomena and ecosystems, the overwintering and migration biology of the monarch butterfly, chemical defense, mimicry, and scientific film making. He has authored and coauthored more than 200 scientific papers on the monarch butterfly. Since 1977 he has been deeply involved with conservation of the monarch's overwintering and breeding habitats, and especially with the imperiled Oyamel fir forests in Mexico which he considers the Achille's heel of the monarch. To track deforestation, he recently formed a Geographic Information Systems team including students and colleagues from the University of Mexico, NASA, and Sweet Briar College. He also has been involved with several conservation initiatives to educate and help local Mexicans in their quest to save the forests.

Life Among the Monarchs: A Biographical Interview with Linda Fink (00:13:18)

NCTC Historian, Dr. Mark Madison interviews Linda Fink on the early days of Lincoln Brower research (Distinguished Service Professor of Zoology Emeritus at the University of Florida. 05/21/2015

Mapping the Blue: The World's Largest Marine Park (00:53:27)

Conservation in Action Series - The National Conservation Training Center invites prominent conservationists, writers, historians, scientists, filmmakers, and educators to discuss their work to a broad and interested public. In this program NCTC Historian, Dr. Mark Madison, hosts an interview with Alison Barrat, Filmmaker, Living Oceans Foundation and Sam Purkis, Ph.D. Oceanographer, National Coral Reef Institute. March 11, 2015.

Migratory Birds First Frontier (00:59:49)

Scott Weidensaul, Author, Ornithologist, Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds. May 2, 2012.

Bird migration is the world's only true unifying natural phenomenon, stitching the continents together in a way that even the great weather systems fail to do. Scott Weidensaul follows awesome kettles of hawks over the Mexican coastal plains, bar-tailed godwits that hitchhike on gale winds 7,000 miles nonstop across the Pacific from Alaska to New Zealand, and myriad songbirds whose numbers have dwindled so dramatically in recent decades. Migration paths form an elaborate global web that shows serious signs of fraying, and Weidensaul delves into the tragedies of habitat degradation and deforestation with an urgency that brings to life the vast problems these miraculous migrants now face. Living on the Wind is a magisterial work of nature writing.

Author and naturalist Scott Weidensaul has written more than two dozen books on natural history, including Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds, a Pulitzer Prize finalist; The Ghost with Trembling Wings, about the search for species that may or may not be extinct; and Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding. His newest book, The First Frontier: The Forgotten History of Struggle, Savagery and Endurance in Early America, will be published in February 2012.

Weidensaul lectures widely on wildlife and environmental topics, and is an active field researcher, specializing in birds of prey and hummingbirds. He lives in the Appalachians of eastern Pennsylvania, the heart of the old colonial frontier.

Mission Wolf (00:54:18)

Installment of "Conservationists in Action" Series, 2006. Kent Walker and his wife, Tracy Brooks, discuss their work with captive wolves in their program called "Mission Wolf". Hosted by Dr. Mark Madison, Historian at NCTC.

Kent Walker and Tracy Brooks discuss their work with captive wolves, wolves that are unable to be returned to the wild for any number of reasons. They run a program called "Mission Wolf" that takes in and cares for wolves and educates the public on why wild animals, such as wolves, should not be held as pets but should be allowed to remain wild. The star of the show is Maggie, a female Canadian Gray wolf.

Nature's Allies: Lessons from Great Conservationists (01:58:13) Recorded:  October 21, 2020

FWS Historian Mark Madison, hosts an interview with author Larry Nielsen on his new book,  

Nature's Allies: Eight Conservationists Who Changed the World. In the first hour we’ll meet Larry and learn about his work.  

In the second hour, Larry will discuss his book, Nature’s Allies. 

In eight biographies—John Muir, Ding Darling, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Chico Mendes, Billy Frank Jr., Wangari Maathai, and Gro Harlem Brundtland, Nielsen writes about individuals who have little in common except that they all made a lasting mark on our world. Some famous and some little known to readers, they spoke out to protect wilderness, wildlife, fisheries, forests, and wetlands. They fought for social justice and exposed polluting practices. They marched, wrote books, performed acts of civil disobedience, rallied global leaders and, in one case, were martyred for their defense of nature. Nature’s Allies pays tribute to them all as it inspires a new generation of conservationists to follow in their footsteps. 

Larry Nielsen is Professor of Natural Resources at North Carolina State University. Previously, he was Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor at North Carolina State University from 2005-2009. Before that appointment, he was Dean of the College of Natural Resources at NC State (2001-2004), Director of the School of Forest Resources at The Pennsylvania State University (1994-2001) and a faculty member and later head of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences at Virginia Tech (1977-1994). 

Pacific Sea Otter Conservation (00:55:00)

Pacific Sea Otter Conservation - Presented by Greg Sanders, Marine Mammal Biologist with Minerals Management Service in 2008 as part of the "Conservationists in Action Series" hosted by Dr. Mark Madison, Historian at NCTC.

Greg Sanders, a marine mammal biologist with the Minerals Management Service (previously with the USFWS for 18 years), presents sea otter recovery efforts underway in California up to 2008. He discusses both translocation and recovery for the southern sea otter along the northern California coast. The title of his presentation is "Southern Sea Otter Recovery - A Fragile Balance".

Pathways to Our Sustainable Future (00:52:01)

NCTC Historian, Dr. Mark Madison, hosts a studio interview with Patty DeMarco on her new book, “Pathways to Our Sustainable Future – A Global Perspective from Pittsburgh”. Inspired by Rachel Carson’s environmental ethic, the book explores positive pathways toward sustainability based on 28 case studies in Pittsburgh. Examining the experience of a single city with all of its complexities allows a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities inherent in adapting to a changing world. Choices for more sustainable pathways for the future include transforming the energy system, restoring fertile ground, and preventing pollution through green chemistry production. Throughout the book, case studies responding to ethical challenges give specific examples of successful ways forward. This is a book about empowerment and hope.

Patricia DeMarco has spent a thirty-year career in energy and environmental policy in both private and public sector positions, including Commissioner of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska and Demand Side Manager for the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative. She was the Executive Director of the Rachel Carson Homestead Association and Director of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University in Pittsburgh. She is the Executive Producer of a documentary film, “The Power of One Voice - A 50 Year Perspective on the Life of Rachel Carson” and has served as technical advisor for a video series titled “Sustainability Pioneers”.

For more information on her book, visit:

PBS Filmakers Discussion: "Rachel Carson" (00:45:25)

NCTC Historian, Mark Madison, hosts a studio interview with PBS filmmakers, Michelle Ferrari and Rafael de la Uz on their new film "Rachel Carson" which will premiere nationwide on the PBS American Experience, Jan. 24 at 8pm ET. Michelle Ferrari (Producer/Director) has been creating innovative, critically acclaimed documentary narratives for more than two decades. Her work as a screenwriter and story editor has been seen on PBS, HBO, and at film festivals nationwide, and has garnered honors from the Writers Guild of America, the Western Writers Association, the Organization of American Historians, the Sundance Film Festival, and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The writer of numerous American Experience episodes including The Perfect Crime, Silicon Valley, Roads to Memphis and Kit Carson, Ferrari is perhaps best known for the highly rated Seabiscuit, which earned her a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing. She most recently wrote and directed American Experience’s Edison. Additional recent credits include the landmark PBS series Half the Sky and the Emmy-winning HBO documentary Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and holds an M.A. in American History from Columbia University.

Rafael de la Uz (Director of Photography) Born in Havana, Cuba, Rafael graduated from the University of Havana in 1996, then, in 1998, earned a degree in Cinematography from the world-renowned International School of Film and Television, in San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba. The following year, he shared credit as a Cinematographer on Spanish director Manuel Martín Cuenca's El juego de cuba (The Cuban Game), a feature-length documentary that won critical acclaim and garnered awards from film festivals around the world. In 2001, Rafael moved to New York, where he went on to direct the cinematography for numerous high-profile documentaries, among them Venezuela, Revolution in Progress, a production of Discovery/Times TV, Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq for HBO, and Roads to Memphis for the prestigious PBS series American Experience. 

"Rachel Carson" premieres on PBS American Experience, Jan. 24 at 8pm ET Local times may vary, for details visit:

Pollinator Health and Land Use Economics (01:00:02)

Host Mark Madison, NCTC Historian interviews Claudia Hitaj, USDA, Economic Research Service Economist and Daniel Hellerstein, USDA, Economic Research Service Economist. May 25, 2016.

Potomac River History (00:41:56)

Historian Mark Madison interviews James D. Rice. July 26, 2019.

James Rice is the Walter S. Dickson Professor of History and Chair of the History Department at Tufts University. He is the author of two books, Nature and History in the Potomac Country: From Hunter-Gatherers to the Age of Jefferson, and Tales from a Revolution: Bacon's Rebellion and the Transformation of Early America. His current research includes an environmental history of Native North America from Oaxaca to the Arctic and from the first human habitation to the present.

Rachel Carson and Her Sisters: Extraordinary Women Who Have Shaped America's Environment (00:55:35)

In this program NCTC Historian, Dr. Mark Madison, interviews with author Robert Musil to talk about women conservationists and his new book, "Rachel Carson and Her Sisters: Extraordinary Women Who Have Shaped America's Environment". July 9, 2015.

In Rachel Carson and Her Sisters, Robert K. Musil redefines the achievements and legacy of environmental pioneer and scientist Rachel Carson, linking her work to a wide network of American women activists and writers and introducing her to a new, contemporary audience. Rachel Carson was the first American to combine two longstanding, but separate strands of American environmentalism—the love of nature and a concern for human health. Widely known for her 1962 best-seller, Silent Spring, Carson is today often perceived as a solitary “great woman,” whose work single-handedly launched a modern environmental movement. But as Musil’s book demonstrates, Carson’s life work drew upon and was supported by already existing movements, many led by women, in conservation and public health.

On the fiftieth anniversary of her death, this book helps underscore Carson’s enduring environmental legacy and brings to life the achievements of women writers and advocates, such as Ellen Swallow Richards, Dr. Alice Hamilton, Terry Tempest Williams, Sandra Steingraber, Devra Davis, and Theo Colborn, all of whom overcame obstacles to build and lead the modern American environmental movement.

Robert K. Musil, PhD, MPH is the President and CEO of the Rachel Carson Council, the legacy organization envisioned by Rachel Carson and founded in 1965 by her closest friends and colleagues. Dr. Musil is also a Senior Fellow and Adjunct Professor at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, School of Public Affairs, American University, where he teaches about climate change and American environmental politics.

Restoring Endangered Seabirds: Lessons from Puffins and Terns (00:44:02)

Restoring Endangered Seabirds - An interview with Dr. Stephen Kress, Vice President of bird conservation, National Audubon Society, as part of the "Conservationists in Action Series" hosted by Dr. Mark Madison, Historian, NCTC in 2003.

The Service's primary focus at the Maine Coastal Islands NWR is colonial seabird restoration and management. Refuge islands provide nesting habitat for common, Arctic, and endangered roseate terns, Atlantic puffins, razorbills, black guillemots, Leach's storm-petrels, laughing gulls, and common eiders. During the last 25 years, the Service and its conservation partners have worked to reverse the decline in these birds' populations.

Return to Penguin City (00:53:08)

"William Sladen is Bi-polar" - Return to Penguin City. An interview with Dr. William Sladen as part of the "Conservationists in Action Series" hosted by Dr. Mark Madison, Historian at NCTC. Recorded in 2008.

Mark Madison interviews Dr. William Sladen, an accomplished scientist, physician, filmmaker and expert on arctic and antarctic birds. His swan research program using ultralight aircraft was the basis for the film "Fly Away home". The interview concludes with a showing of his film "Return to Penguin City".

Rosalie Edge, Hawk of Mercy (00:48:16) Recorded: June 9, 2020

Maria Parisi, NCTC, hosts an interview with author Dyana Furmansky on her book "Rosalie Edge, Hawk of Mercy." Rosalie Edge, well-known for creating the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Pennsylvania, challenged early 20th century conservationists to protect endangered birds. This progressive New York socialite and suffragist-turned-environmentalist became known as a “Joan of Arc” and a “hellcat” in defense of nature. This event comes to us 100 years after the U.S. Congress ratified the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote.   

Dyana Furmansky coauthored These American Lands: Parks, Wilderness, and the Public Lands. Her articles on nature and the environment have appeared in the New York TimesAmerican HeritageAudubonHigh Country NewsSierraWilderness and many other publications.  

Saving the Places We Love (00:44:30)

Conservation in Action Series - The National Conservation Training Center invites prominent conservationists, writers, historians, scientists, filmmakers, and educators to discuss their work to a broad and interested public. In this program NCTC Historian, Dr. Mark Madison, hosts an interview with Ned Tillman, Author of “Saving the Places We Love” and “The Chesapeake Watershed”.

Ned Tillman is the creative and driving force behind the “Saving the Places We Love” online campaign. He wants to do whatever he can to give others the tools to save the places they love no matter where they are across the country and the world. His two books are full of ideas and examples of what it takes to accomplish these goals. He also speaks to and facilitates groups coming together to save places important to them. During his career, Ned has provided energy and environmental consulting services to governments and corporations across the U.S. and abroad. He has presented keynote addresses at national conventions, colleges, and for a range of businesses and non-profit organizations. He serves on local, regional, and national boards working to ensure the health and sustainability of our country. Proceeds from his books go toward watershed restoration and land preservation efforts.

Sharon K. Schafer (00:16:59)

Mark Madison, USFWS Historian, interviews Sharon K. Schafer, Wildlife Biologist, Artist, and Photographer. October 21, 2016.

Snow of the Nile: Uganda's Equatorial Glaciers and Climate Change (00:51:10)

Conservation in Action Series - The National Conservation Training Center invites prominent conservationists, writers, historians, scientists, filmmakers, and educators to discuss their work to a broad and interested public. In this program NCTC Historian, Dr. Mark Madison, hosts an interview with Scientist & Filmmaker Nate Dappen, Ph.D. March 5, 2015.

The Birds of WV (00:53:18) Presented by Richard Bailey, State Ornithologist, WV Department of Natural Resources. June 2012.

The Genius of Birds (00:23:20)

NCTC Historian, Dr. Mark Madison, hosts an interview with nationally acclaimed science and nature writer​, ​Jennifer Ackerman​,​ ​on​ her newest book “The Genius of Birds”​. In recent years, science has discovered that birds are much, much more intelligent than we ever supposed, capable of abstract thinking, problem-solving, remembering, learning by example, recognizing faces​ and ​even conversing in a meaningful way​.​Jennifer Ackerman has been writing about science and nature for 30 years. Her most recent book, The Genius of Birds (Penguin Press, April 2016), explores the intelligence of birds. Her previous books include Ah-Choo! The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold (Twelve Press, 2010), Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body (Houghton Mifflin, 2007), Chance in the House of Fate: A Natural History of Heredity (Houghton Mifflin 2001), and Notes from the Shore (Viking Penguin, 1995). A contributor to Scientific American, National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times, her articles and essays have been included in several anthologies, among them, Best American Science Writing, The Nature Reader, Best Nature Writing, Flights of Imagination: Extraordinary Writings About Birds, and The Penguin Book of the Ocean. Jennifer’s work aims to explain and interpret science for a lay audience and to explore the riddle of humanity’s place in the natural world, blending scientific knowledge with imaginative vision.

The Monarch of the Americas: Chasing, Saving, and Understanding our Most Iconic Insect (00:59:49)

Conservationists in Action Series - The National Conservation Training Center invites prominent conservationists, writers, historians, scientists, filmmakers, and educators to discuss their work to a broad and interested public. In this program NCTC Historian, Dr. Mark Madison, hosts an interview with Butterfly Expert & Author, Robert Michael Pyle. March 19, 2015.

ROBERT MICHAEL PYLE was born on July 19, 1947 in Denver and raised in nearby Aurora, Colorado. His B.S. in Nature Perception and Protection (1969) and M.S. in Nature Interpretation (1973) from the University of Washington were followed in 1976 by a Ph.D. from Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In 1971, during a Fulbright Fellowship at the Monks Wood Experimental Station in England, Pyle founded the Xerces Society for invertebrate conservation, and later chaired its Monarch Project. Bob has worked as an assistant curator at Yale's Peabody Museum, as a butterfly conservation consultant for Papua New Guinea, Northwest Land Steward for The Nature Conservancy, and guest professor or writer at Portland State, University of Alaska, Evergreen State, and Lewis & Clark College. He has lectured for scientific, literary, and general audiences in many cities and countries, taught numerous field courses and creative writing seminars, been on the faculties of Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory as well as participating in the Port Townsend, Pacific Northwest, Sitka, and Desert writing conferences, and has appeared on NPR's E-Town. He received a 1997 Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Conservation Biology. In 1979, Pyle moved from Portland, Oregon to the rural community of Gray's River, on a tributary of the Lower Columbia in far southwest Washington. It was a deliberate migration, in the Thoreauvian sense, toward the requisite setting for confronting life's bare essentials and to see what effect that may have on the creative act of writing. As Michael Pearsonhas commented: "For a man trained in natural history, science, and conservation much more than in literature, the transformation from scientist into full-time writer was a daring step into terra incognita, a metamorphosis reminiscent of the butterflies he studies." As a professional writer, Pyle has published hundreds of papers, essays, stories, and poems in many magazines and journals in addition to 14 books.

"The Power of One Voice" A Fifty Year Perspective on the Live of Rachel Carson (00:46:20)

Conservation in Action Series- The National Conservation Training Center invites prominent conservationists, writers, historians, scientists, filmmakers, and educators to discuss their work to a broad and interested public. In this program NCTC Historian, Dr. Mark Madison, hosts an interview with Mark Dixon, Filmmaker, "The Power of One Voice"; Linda Lear, Ph.D. Author, Rachel Carson Biographer; and Patricia DeMarco, Ph.D. Rachel Carson Scholar. March 5, 2015.

The Wolf's Tooth: Applying Tropic Cascades Principles to Wildlife Management on Working Landscapes (01:01:35)

NCTC Historian, Dr. Mark Madison hosts an interview with scientist and author Cristina Eisenberg.  April 19, 2012. 

Travels with the Songbird Migration of Spring (00:53:43)

NCTC Historian, Dr. Mark Madison, hosts a studio interview with Smithsonian ornithologist Bruce Beehler on his newest book “North on the Wing: Travels with the Songbird Migration of Spring”.  March 29, 2018

In late March 2015, Beehler set off on a solo four-month trek to track songbird migration and the northward progress of spring through America. Traveling via car, canoe, bike, and on foot, Beehler followed woodland warblers and other Neotropical songbird species from the southern border of Texas, where the birds first arrive after their winter sojourns in South America and the Caribbean, northward through the Mississippi drainage to its headwaters in Minnesota and onward to their nesting grounds in the north woods of Ontario. In North on the Wing, Beehler describes both the epic migration of songbirds across the country and the gradual dawning of springtime through the U.S. heartland--the blossoming of wildflowers, the chorusing of frogs, the leafing out of forest canopies--and also tells the stories of the people and institutions dedicated to studying and conserving the critical habitats and processes of spring songbird migration. Inspired in part by Edwin Way Teale's landmark 1951 book North with the Spring, this book--part travelogue, part field journal, and part environmental and cultural history--is a fascinating first-hand account of a once-in-a-lifetime journey. The book revels in the wonders of spring migration and serves as a call to conserve, restore, and expand bird habitats to preserve them for future generations of both birds and humans.

Bruce Beehler is an ornithologist, conservationist, and naturalist. He is currently a Research Associate in the Division of Birds at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, and is focused on research and writing about nature and natural history. Beehler has spent much of his scientific career studying and working to conserve birds and their forest habitats. After conducting doctoral fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, Beehler worked for ten years at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, followed by stints at the Wildlife Conservation Society, U.S. Department of State, Counterpart International, Conservation International, and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation. Beehler has published eleven books and authored scores of technical and popular articles about birds and nature. In 2007, Beehler was featured in a 60-Minutes piece highlighting an expedition he led to the Foja Mountains in the interior of New Guinea in which scores of new species of plants and animals were discovered. Today, Beehler carries out natural history studies and writing focused on wildlife and natural places in North America.

Wildlife Webcams: Partnering for conservation and Education (02:04:54) Recorded:  November 17, 2020

Join guests Katie Julian, Ed Britton, John Howe and NCTC host Randy Robinson for a discussion on how webcams have become a new and important tool for wildlife conservation. Partnerships and Friends Groups are key to keeping thirty webcams running on U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service sites nationwide. The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge stretches over 200 river miles and has six webcams that offer many different views of nesting and migrating wildlife. This refuge is a great example of the power of partnerships to enhance public enjoyment and appreciation of wildlife through innovative technology. During the first hour, we’ll meet Katie, Ed, and John as we discuss some of the history and background of their webcam projects. In the second hour, we’ll take a visual tour of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge to learn how friends' groups and partnerships have made wildlife viewing more accessible to all.    

Katie Julian is Visitor Services Specialist at the La Crosse District of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. 

Ed Britton is Wildlife Refuge Manager for the Savanna District of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. 

John Howe is Executive Director of the Raptor Resource Project and has developed nest cam programs worldwide. 

Where the Wild Things Were (00:51:46)

Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators. An interview with Will Stolzenburg, author and wildlife journalist, as part of the Conservationist in Action Series. Hosted by Dr. Mark Madison.

Will Stolzenburg is interviewed by Dr. Mark Madison, NCTC Historian, during a 2008 installment of the Conservationist in Action Series at NCTC. Will discusses his new book, "Where the Wild Things Were". He draws on more than 20 years as a journalist covering Conservation Biology and extinctions. He is the former Science Editor of the Nature Conservancy magazine. His new book presents the consequences of the loss of large predators on the landscape.

William Souder: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson (00:49:09)

NCTC Historian Mark Madison will host an interview with award-winning author William Souder. “On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson” is Souder's newly released biography. October 2012.

Published on the fiftieth anniversary of her seminal book, Silent Spring, Souder’s just published book is an indelible new portrait of Rachel Carson, founder of the environmental movement. She loved the ocean and wrote three books about its mysteries, including the international bestseller The Sea Around Us. But it was with her fourth book, Silent Spring, that this unassuming biologist transformed our relationship with the natural world. Published in 1962, Silent Spring shocked the public and forced the government to take action-despite a withering attack on Carson from the chemicals industry. The book awakened the world to the heedless contamination of the environment and eventually led to the establishment of the EPA and to the banning of DDT and a host of related pesticides. Elegantly written and meticulously researched, On a Farther Shore reveals a shy yet passionate woman more at home in the natural world than in the literary one that embraced her. William Souder also writes sensitively of Carson's romantic friendship with Dorothy Freeman, and of her death from cancer in 1964. This extraordinary new biography captures the essence of one of the great reformers of the twentieth century.

William Souder has written for many prominent newspapers and magazines and is the author of A Plague of Frogs, a book about the investigation of outbreaks of deformed frogs across North America a decade ago, and Under a Wild Sky, a biography of John James Audubon and a Pulitzer Prize finalist.